For several years, we have worked in close partnership with the Outreach, Partnership and Implementation Science  (OPIS) program at the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR), an NIH-funded center that provides education, support, and funding for clinical and translational research and helps to connect research teams and engage communities. Several of our community board partners work directly with MICHR on projects to engage the community (e.g. Partners In Research, RC4), and we have  received grants through the MICHR Pilot Grant Program for community engagement projects (e.g. Motherly Intercession, Genesee County Healthy Sexuality Project). In addition, every summer we host 2-3 trainees from the MICHR Health Disparities Summer Program. This close connection helps us build and maintain strong partnerships in Flint and Genesee County and also connects us to other community partners in the area.

This past year, MICHR funding has provided support to projects that have led to exciting new programs and partnerships in Washtenaw County: The Encuesta Buenos Vecinos project, funded through the Pilot Grant Program, and Weighing In, a project created in partnership with a student trainee enrolled in the Health Disparities Summer Program.

  1.  Encuesta Buenos Vecinos. The project has connected the PRC to partners in Washtenaw County, particularly Washtenaw County Public Health and Casa Latina, a new non-profit and developing Latino community center. Community representatives, including local physicians, ESL teachers, and residents have been collaborating to help develop the survey and prepare for pilot-testing which is slated to begin this month. The survey will be pilot-tested with roughly 60 Latino/as within Washtenaw County, and the project will be promoted in the community throughout the summer with formal data collection beginning in Fall 2013.  For more information, please contact: Daniel Kruger, kruger@umich.edu.
  2. Weighing In.  Last summer, PRC Community Engagement Director, Susan Frazier-Kouassi, and a MICHR Health Disparities Summer Program trainee reached out to community members in Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County to begin talking about the structural causes of obesity in African American women, forming the Weighing In project. This community-organizing effort resulted in a new community-academic collaborative workgroup to address obesity in African American Women. Along with the PRC/MI, partners include: People-Organized-Working-Evolving-Reaching (POWER, Inc.), a faith-based community agency in Ypsilanti, MI, and numerous other local organizations including the Ann Arbor YMCA, HOPE Medical Clinic, and Washtenaw County Public Health.

Applying the principles of CBPR, the Weighing In team administered surveys to more than 300 adult women in Washtenaw County. They collected information about diet and exercise, reported and perceived weight status, mental health, discrimination, and cultural beliefs in order to examine how these issues may relate to obesity. Focus groups are also currently being held to discuss weight, diet, and exercise issues with African American women in Washtenaw County.

With MICHR funding and support, the PRC has successfully created partnerships within Washtenaw County and begun projects that address new populations and health issues, helping to promote safe and healthy futures throughout Michigan.