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The ASA Spivack Program in Applied Social Research and Social Policy announces the recipients of the 2013 Community Action Research Initiative (CARI) awards. This small grants program encourages and supports sociologists in bringing social science knowledge, methods, and expertise to address community-identified issues and concerns. Each applicant proposed a pro bono work with a community organization or local public interest group, the group’s request collaboration, and the intended outcomes. CARI provides up to $3,000 for each project to cover direct costs associated with the community action research. The principle investigators are listed below along with a description of their funded proposals.
Claudia Chaufan, University of California-San Francisco, will evaluate an on-site food-garden in an early childhood education program, North Bay Children’s Center, which caters to underserved families in Northern California. Poor nutrition is one of our country’s largest problems, and is responsible for disease and health inequalities. Unhealthy eating habits develop at a younger age and are highly influenced by family eating practices. Communities across the country have responded by supporting smaller, farmer-owned and run farms. These urban farms have provided healthier food programs in schools and encourage a healthier lifestyle. Chaufan’s study will examine how participation in the program impacts families’ eating practices and overall quality of life as well as address how incorporating food gardening impacts curriculum development in early childhood education. The project seeks to identify interventions and strategies that improve parent and community engagement with the program and food security in participating communities and to develop recommendations that enhance the overreaching goal of the organization.
Shane Lachtman, University of California-Los Angeles, received funding to examine how to increase adoption of shelter animals that might otherwise be euthanized. His project, “In Search of Answers and Solutions: Why Do Americans Love Animals and Stay Away from Shelters.” The organization he will work with, the Los Angeles Animal Alliance, aims to examine the capacity, experiences, successes, and pathways local shelters have when engaging the public. Lachtman will research how animal shelters encourage the public to adopt, volunteer, and donate and the impact of their various methods. To examine community involvement, he will investigate the roles and relationships of shelter staff, programs, communities, promotions, recruiting, volunteering, and fundraising practices. The Animal Alliance, which consists of 30 Southern Californian shelters, seeks to connect ordinary people and local shelters as well as facilitate high-quality opportunities for people to adopt, volunteer, and donate to their local shelter.
Carl Milofsky, Bucknell University, will evaluate an athletic field renovation project at the Central Columbia School District in central Pennsylvania. The athletic field will give residents access to promote community health. With information being gathered through a community-wide health assessment that will help compare changes in community health over time, Milofsky will address the significance of the remolded and opened athletic fields. He will conduct his evaluation with the help of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation. The Central Columbia School District serves students from K-12th grade in three small towns. Central Pennsylvania has been plagued with obesity, and supporting exercise is crucial for adolescents of the Central Columbia School District. The study will include students taking surveys and interviewing community members. The students will ask questions about the health issues, problems the community has faces and the general quality of life. Milofsky’s research is critical in helping small communities—long overshadowed by the problems of larger towns and cities— overcome unhealthy lifestyles.
Caitlin Patler, University of California-Los Angles, will assess the impacts of the Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program, which was implemented by President Obama in 2012. Patler, along with Dream Team Los Angeles (DTLA), will examine the DACA’s impact on the educational and employment trajectories, community involvement, healthcare access, and psychological well-being of undocumented immigrant young adults in California. The DACA’s goal is to provide programs for eligible, undocumented immigrant youth and provides a two-year reprieve from deportation that includes work authorization, but no path to citizenship. Patler and the DTLA will evaluate whether the lives of undocumented immigrant young adults are benefited through undocumented young adults access to education, employment, healthcare, and community involvement. Respondents will answer questions about the families who receive work permits, who applied for DACA, and the interpersonal and psychological impacts of their legal status. With nearly 5 million undocumented children and young adults in the United States, the study will answer many crucial questions surrounding the uncertainty of a large segment of America’s immigrant population.
Frank Ridzi and Matthew Loveland, Le Moyne College, believe that kindergarten readiness is a top priority in Syracuse, NY. The County spends $19 million annually to subsidize childcare for low-income families, but currently only about half of children are assessed as “ready” upon entering kindergarten. Loveland and Ridzi are working with a broad coalition of partners (The Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County) that includes the county government and city school district. The goal of their project is to build on the social capital that this group has been accumulating in order to move the community toward greater data sharing in a manner that both respects privacy and enables more effective and efficient use of resources. This project would be a first step for the community in the direction of data sharing by collaboratively working to explore what types of childcare in the community best prepare children for school.
Mark Sherry, The University of Toledo, will explore the conditions of labor camps and conduct interviews with farm workers. The research will further examine how the work is poorly paid and often unsafe. Sherry raises address whether there is worker exploitation occurring and if workplace safety regulations are being violated. The grant will support five undergraduate and a graduate internship with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC). Sherry’s research has four goals: (1) To allow the students to explore the abuses and indignities farm workers experience. (2) To explore the social movement strategies adopted by farm workers in response to these conditions. (3) To examine the responses of major manufacturers such as Reynolds Tobacco to the campaigns of the workers. (4) To give the students (both undergraduate and graduate) a chance to do detailed ethnographic fieldwork, with the possibility for publications.
Dale Willits, California State University-Bakersfield, will evaluate the Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK), a county in California’s Central-Valley. Willits’ plan is to develop an evaluation survey that can be used to measure the effectiveness of their resource fair program. The second aspect of the study is to provide a pilot evaluation of the program, which will “consist of administering surveys to CAPK clients attending the resource fair sessions,” Willits explained. The respondents will be interviewed before and after attending the resource fair, which is designed to connect those who are disadvantaged with resources available within their community. The CAPK is also a valuable means of providing health information, job training services, and assistance accessing state and federal assistance programs. With Willits’ research, the effectiveness of the CAPK’s methods can be reviewed and examined and reformed if necessary.
The next application deadline is February 2, 2014. For more information and to apply for the next funding cycle, visit www.asanet.org/funding/cari.cfm.