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197 Penn community scholars program: assessing capacity building and community-academic partnerships through an innovative, community-based training program
  1. Theresa Soya1,
  2. Nicole Thomas2,
  3. Sara R Solomon1
  1. 1University of Pennsylvania, Penn Injury Science Center
  2. 2Thomas Jefferson University


Statement of Purpose The Penn Community Scholars Program (Penn CSP), an initiative of the Penn Injury Science Center’s Outreach Core, was developed in 2015 to build community capacity to perform and sustain research in Philadelphia. The program trains community organization leaders in research skills and seeks to match them with academic partners to facilitate community-based participatory research(CBPR) work.

Methods/Approach The Penn CSP selects a cohort of 15–20 participants from 10–12 organizations to participate in a 12-session training program each year. The goals of the Penn CSP are to build capacity of community organizations to perform CBPR with academics; and expand mutually beneficial community-academic partnerships to improve health outcomes. Scholars are trained in navigating the research process, forming CBPR partnerships, and presenting a professional pitch. To assess impact, we employed a pre- and post-survey based approach to evaluate change in knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and intentions to conduct research and apply skills.

Results Facilitators, barriers, and short-term outcomes associated with the primary goals of the Penn CSP were identified among four cohorts of scholars. Participants reported high levels of satisfaction, and an increase in knowledge, self-efficacy, and skills related to conducting CBPR. Participants reported an increase in confidence to identify problems in their communities (78%), in their trust of academic partnerships (61%), in knowledge on developing program goals and objectives (49%), and in knowledge on formulating research questions (45%).

Conclusion Through an innovative, community-based approach, the Penn CSP builds community capacity and increases the adaptability of organizations to participate in academic research, and connects these leaders with faculty partners across academic institutions to continue CBPR work.

Significance/Contribution to Injury and Violence Prevention Field In a current cohort of 16 individuals representing 10 organizations, over half fulfill missions that center on injury prevention, including suicide, intimate partner violence, gun violence, and opioid overdoses.

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