231364 WERA's Community-Owned and Managed Research (COMR) model: Funding equity and management parity in community-university partnerships

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 3:30 PM - 3:50 PM

Sacoby Wilson, MS, PhD , Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Omega Wilson, BA, MA, LUTCF , West End Revitalization Association - WERA, Mebane, NC
WERA was organized (1994) to address health disparities due to a planned 119-bypass through African American communities settled by former slaves in late 1860's. Slave descendants are still denied full access to basic public health amenities: safe drinking water, municipal sewer service, and paved streets. In 1999, WERA filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice and the US EPA, placing a moratorium on highway construction. WERA used grants from the EPA to perform community-driven research in order to collect drinking and surface water samples to document contamination from backyard septic system with 50 to 100% failure. WERA then designed the community-owned and managed research (COMR) model in order to validate E. coli and fecal coliform data in streams, ditches and Mebane's municipal water supply. WERA led studies following the COMR approach with community monitors, government agencies, UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Public Health & Department of City and Regional Planning, and legal counsel (2000-2007). In 2007, WERA established a community-university partnership with faculty at the University of South Carolina to continue its community-driven environmental justice (EJ) and health research. As result of this research, block grants were obtained that funded installation of sewer for 94 out of 500 homes. In 2007, EPA selected O.R. Wilson to serve as a member of National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. In 2009, Mr. Wilson incorporated COMR principles in the “Community-Facilitated Strategy” section of the EPA Goods Movement Policy Recommendations in order to reduce air/water/soil pollution related to air/highway/rail/marine corridors and ports in EJ areas.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. To discuss the necessity of new U.S.EPA inter-division and federal inter-agency policies in order to empower low-income minority and tribal organizations when partnering with local/state/federal government, universities, and private agencies. 2. To identify how COMR’s basic principles of “funding equity and management parity” can be incorporated into guidelines for federal grants in order to assure adequate financial resources, trained community/tribal principle investigators, and measurable outcomes in areas lacking basic public health amenities. 3. To assess importance of building the financial and management capacity of local community and tribal grassroots organizations necessary to create sustainable foundations for front-line community/tribal monitoring, research, and compliance in site-specific areas.

Keywords: Policy/Policy Development, Public Health Infrastructure

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been working collaboratively with community organizations for several years. I am also the Chair of the APHA Environment Section.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.