November 2008 Issue Volume 36 Issue 8

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Four New Projects Are Sponsored by ASA’s 2008 Community Action Research Initiative

Sociological research in service to communities

The ASA’s Spivack Program in Applied Social Research and Social Policy announces the recipients of the 2008 Community Action Research Initiative (CARI) awards. This small grants program encourages and supports sociologists to bring social science knowledge, methods, and expertise to address community-identified issues and concerns. Each applicant described a proposed project for 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 doing community action research. The principle investigators are listed below along with a description of their four approved proposals.

Mary Glazier, Millersville University, will work with the East King Improvement District (EKID), an organization established in 2004 to create and maintain a clean, safe, and comfortable environment for residents and businesses in southeast Lancaster City, PA. In 2004, EKID received a five-year grant to address ways to reduce crime, increase safety, strengthen neighborhoods through urban redevelopment, and assist residents in taking on a more active role in their neighborhoods. Glazier will work with three undergraduates (who will serve as interns at EKID) and a research assistant to conduct surveys, prepare reports, and facilitate community meetings pertaining to crime and public safety in Lancaster. The students will assist in the data collection process and will work with the research assistant to analyze the data using SPSS. At the project’s conclusion, a report will be presented to EKID, and students will have the opportunity to prepare papers for a professional conference.

Gary Perry and Mako Fitts, both from Seattle University, proposed the "Central Area Displacement Project." They will partner with representatives from The Central Area Displacement Network, a group of five organizations in Seattle’s Central Area. With the help of the network, they will assess the impact of displacement on the populations serviced by these community partners and the effectiveness of each community partner’s service. They will also assess the needs of each community partner and build a coalition between these community partners to respond to the effects of displacement. These goals will be met through surveys and in-depth interviews with the partners, focus group interviews to address the challenges of each partner, and an evaluative case study to assess the success of the partners in addressing displacement in the Central Area. By June 2009, Perry and Fitts intend to develop a website for the Central Area Displacement Network, which will make their final report available to the public.

Leah Schmalzbauer, Montana State University, will continue a project that addresses immigration issues in Montana’s Gallatin Valley. Over the past several months, Schmalzbauer has conducted in-depth interviews and engaged in participatory observation with local Latinos to determine their needs as well as opportunities for, and barriers to, community incorporation. She has concluded that advocates for the Latino community need to understand and trust each other better and to join forces on community organizing efforts. For the next phase of the project, she will collaborate with the Gallatin Valley Human Rights Task Force to address that need. This project will take place in four phases: (1) organizing and implementing a community forum; (2) developing and administering an anonymous survey to forum participants; (3) facilitating focus groups centered on issues that emerge in the forum; and (4) compiling resources and information guides for the Latino community based on the data collected. These resource guides will be distributed to the community.

Michele Wakin, Bridgewater State College, will work with Father Bill’s and Main Spring and the Plymouth County Housing Alliance to collect detailed information on the homeless population in Massachusetts using surveys and interviews. In order to gather this data, the project will first review and evaluate current methodology and then refine its design, implementation, and evaluation. Past collected data has been instrumental in raising awareness to the needs of the homeless. As a result, Plymouth County established the Housing First Initiative, a program to provide housing for the homeless. Now county and city officials, in conjunction with local service providers and scholars from Bridgewater State College seek to take the initiative a step further. Their goal is to collect enough information to develop a plan to end family homelessness in 10 years. Findings will be disseminated through community forums, at regional meetings on homelessness, and other scholarly venues.

The deadline for applications for the 2009 CARI award is February 1, 2009. Additional information is on the ASA Funding webpage at small_green


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