May/June 2011 Issue • Volume 39 • Issue 5

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2011 CARI Winners Announced

The ASA’s Spivack Program in Applied Social Research and Social Policy announces the recipients of the 2011 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. In their proposals, each applicant proposed a project of pro bono work with a community organization or local public interest group, the group’s request for 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 approved proposals.

Beth Tarasawa, St. Norbert College, will work with The Giving Tree Pantry of Green Bay, WI. The Giving Tree works to serve families facing economic challenges with the support of the Howard-Suamico School District. Established in 2008, the organization offers food, personal care items, school supplies, and winter apparel, in addition to assisting families with summer school and transportation fees. The Giving Tree works to provide their students with the confidence to excel academically and to assist them in becoming productive citizens of the community. With the help of Tarasawa, the school district hopes to assess how funded students perform compared to their non-funded peers. Working with Tarasawa, the Howard-Suamico School District will provide her with de-identified student demographic data matched with test performance measures for the spring 2009 and fall 2010 semesters. She will then use these data to study pantry-funded students who attend summer school to similar socioeconomic students who did not; socioeconomic advantaged students who attended summer school to those who did not. The Howard-Suamico School District hopes, with the outcome of this study, to connect with community businesses and foundations for additional support and funding for their programs.

Christopher Stapel, University of Kentucky, will be working with his home state through collaboration with the Chicago-based organization, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance in a project titled the "Rural LGBTQ Youth Project. " The project’s aim is to assist youth and their advocates in creating safe environments for rural gay youth. The Alliance is the only organization of its kind serving Illinois and its mission is to "promote safety, support and healthy development for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning youth (LGBTQ), in Illinois schools and communities, through advocacy, education, youth organizing and research." Stapel will be conducting a research-based project that will serve the advocacy, education, and organizing functions of the Illinois Safe School Alliance by updating a previous manual he had written, No Longer Alone, which will provide rural-specific information and practices as well as establishing a  website that will be available as an additional resource to a larger LGBTQ youth population.

Lillian Brislen, University of Kentucky, will work with the Community Farm Alliance (CFA) and a team of graduate students in Rural Sociology and undergraduate students in Sustainable Agriculture (SAG) programs. The team will be conducting a needs assessment project for young and beginning farmers in Kentucky. CFA was founded during the farm crisis of the 1980s, developing into a 1,500 member, statewide non-profit organization. Their mission is to "organize and encourage cooperation among farmers, rural, and urban citizens through leadership development and grassroots democratic processes; to ensure an essential, prosperous place for family-scale agriculture in our economies and communities." Brislen’s research will consist of a web-based survey and four listening sessions in different locations around the state. From these components, the team will collect a variety of demographic data as well as other information regarding farming practices and perceived needs and obstacles. Brislen’s research will directly support the development of the Agriculture Legacy Initiative, a program recently begun by CFA to bring together CFA’s experience, leadership, and organizational networks to ensure that programs and policies are informed by sound data and a broad range of community input.

Stephanie Hartwell, University of Massachusetts-Boston, will work with the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute (LDBPI), a community-based organization in Boston. LDBPI was established in 1994 responding to the 1993 murder of teenager Louis D. Brown who was a victim of a gang related shooting on his way to a Teens Against Gang Violence meeting. Since the establishment of LDBPI, the organization has been dedicated to peaceful restorative justice and building sustainable peace in the community. It is largely staffed by the family members of homicide victims. LDBPI is the primary resource in the Boston area helping the families of homicides, serving 98% of the 50-90 murders that occur annually. Hartwell’s project involves the dissemination of the LDBPI’s "Burial and Resource Guide" and a corresponding evaluation. The burial guide is a resource for those affected by the victims’ untimely death. Hartwell’s goal is to employ sociological expertise and technical assistance in the dissemination and implementation of the burial guide through training and a comprehensive and iterative evaluation.

The deadline for the 2012 CARI Award is February 1, 2012. For more information, visit the ASA website and click on "Funding."

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