The Urban Institute created a guidebook that covers different topics in community-engaged work to aid those who are just beginning these efforts or looking to expand or deepen the work they are already doing.
About the Community Engagement Resource Center
The CERC is both a resource center and a leader in systems-wide cultural change. We aim to ensure that researchers, policymakers, funders, community members, and people with lived experience have the tools to co-lead efforts that better meet community goals and priorities.
We serve as a resource for supporting and driving participatory and community-engaged work across the Urban Institute and in partnership with external groups by
- boosting internal capacity by advising and supporting Urban projects,
- providing technical assistance to external partners, and
- developing and sharing tools and trainings for ethical and equitable community engagement.
We serve as a leader in conducting participatory and community-engaged research, policy, and technical assistance by
- promoting and designing systems-wide cultural change within our field,
- convening peer institutions, and
- developing frameworks around community engagement.
For technical assistance and partnership requests, contact us at [email protected].
About Community-Engaged Methods
Community-engaged methods are a rigorous methodology that recognizes and centers the expertise of the people and communities at the heart of the issues we study by collaborating with them as fellow experts in research, policy, and practice.
These methods can start in the design stage and continue through the development of insights and recommendations, and they can range in intensity from the more modest approach of community consultation, where community stakeholders provide input at different stages of the work, to the most rigorous form, participatory action research and community-based participatory research, where community representatives are full partners.
Community engagement is a response to the problematic history of separating people with lived experience from decisionmaking and other sources of power, particularly in communities of color, where people have been unethically treated as the unwitting subjects of scientific studies, had their knowledge disregarded, or saw research used to stigmatize their communities. Community-engaged methods, instead, build from a community’s assets and strengths.
The CERC recognizes that lived experience is expertise and a key source of evidence for research, policy, and practice; and, that engaging a wider range of stakeholders can more effectively address local needs and challenges.
We believe that engaging communities will foster several positive outcomes:
- Culturally relevant research. Engaging communities infuses cultural relevance into all aspects of research, and the resulting analysis and insights speak directly to the challenges and opportunities communities face in a way that residents can best understand and accept.
- More effective programs and services. When community collaborators participate in the analysis and provide input on findings, programmatic recommendations are more likely to be embraced, effective, and long lasting.
- Improved public policy. By engaging community partners in the research process, insights from evidence inspire more meaningful and relevant policy debates, leading to recommendations that are better positioned to have a positive impact.
- Community empowerment. Embedding community-engaged methods into the research process allows participants to learn, grow, and be a part of the solutions to the problems in their communities—which advances community civic engagement and fosters leadership.