Online Program

How do community-academic partnerships grow: Navigating the decision of becoming a formal entity or remaining a volunteer-based group

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.

Brennan Rhodes-Bratton, MPH, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY
Lourdes J. Hernández-Cordero, DrPH, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY
Mindy Fullilove, MD, Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
Diana Hernández, PhD, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY
Pooja Clayton, MPH, Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior, School of Public Health - State University of New York at Albany, Rensselaer, NY
CLIMB (City Life Is Moving Bodies) is a Northern Manhattan community-academic partnership founded by Columbia University affiliated faculty and local residents on the belief that safe parks and neighborhoods are essential to community health. The purpose of the partnership is to combat the problems of violence, drugs, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles by engaging local communities in creating a sense of neighborhood and park ownership. The partnership's strength is tied to the community-based, participatory approach of the CLIMB Consensus Group (CG), composed of a diverse group of community leaders, local residents, and academics, who jointly design, implement, and evaluate CLIMB's community events and research.

Since 2004, CLIMB spearheaded community engagement, empowerment, and capacity-building aiming to improve the urban built-environment. As CLIMB activities achieved milestones, the CG also realized the limitations of its capacity. The CG revisited the debate of whether or not to formalize the structure of the volunteer-driven model. Alongside the benefits of a formalized structure (i.e. nonprofit status or merger/subsidiary), concerns arose as to how this might impact CLIMB's identity and affect daily operations. After careful review and technical assistance from Columbia University, CG determined that increased infrastructure, including grant management, fundraising, and project coordination, would not only expand the program's reach but would also ensure CLIMB's sustainability of its mission to reduce neighborhood crime and obesity prevalence.

CLIMB's decision-making process may serve as a model in similar situations. Further research is needed to assess why such circumstances arise, and how community-academic partnerships can best navigate these challenging waters.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the process of becoming a formalized structure from an informal volunteer-based group, without losing the community-driven identity, to achieve sustainable health outcomes.

Keyword(s): Community-Based Partnership, Quality Improvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a CLIMB Consensus Group member for the past two years and volunteered with CLIMB related activities during the past four years. Among my research interests is the development of sustainable academic-community based initiatives
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.