Penn Community Scholars Program
About the Penn Community Scholars Program
The Penn Community Scholars Program (CSP) equips participants with the tools necessary to expand their research capacity and with personal connections to work alongside academic institutions and funders throughout the region. Its rigorous curriculum aims to increase knowledge, attitudes and beliefs around the meaning of and the need for community-academic partnerships. Participants are guided through the research process and build research skills that lead to a culminating pitch presentation.
To date, the Penn CSP has built capacity among more than 60 individuals from 40+ organizations that serve largely minority, low-income communities in Philadelphia. Organizations come into the program with varying levels of research expertise and infrastructure. They graduate feeling more prepared to be equal partners in research.
The Penn CSP was co-founded in 2015 by Nicole Thomas (Director, Urban Health Lab), Sara Solomon (Deputy Director, Penn Injury Science Center), and Dr. Lucy Wolf Tuton (Adjunct Professor of Medicine and of Prevention and Population Health) with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The program has grown with primary funding from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at the University of Pennsylvania.
Enhance community capacity to develop, implement, and evaluate programs
Improve community capacity to form and sustain research partnerships
Foster dialogue and opportunity for collaboration between existing Penn and community initiatives
Serve as a networking resource for Penn researchers and community-based organizations
Across all cohorts, participants noted high program satisfaction and increased knowledge, self-efficacy, and positive attitudes and beliefs towards conducting research.
increase in trust in the research process
increase in confidence in developing program goals and objectives
increase in confidence to identify a problem
increase in positive attitudes toward the importance of research
increase in desire to partner with an academic
The Penn CSP includes12 sessions across 2 academic semesters, with education goals and topics on:
The value of community-academic partnerships
Understanding the research process
Skill development (e.g., logic models, research questions, concept papers)
Creating and presenting a professional pitch
The Intersection of Community, Academia, and Grant-Making
The culminating symposium where Community Scholars “pitch” their idea to a panel of researchers and funders
As a community-based agency… we have historically struggled to develop meaningful and truly collaborative relationships with research partners because we weren’t able to “speak the language” of academics and researchers.
We are currently using our new research knowledge gained from the Community Scholars Training Program to pitch several research projects within various academic institutions in Philadelphia, including Temple and Penn.
In fact, we used our pitch in a meeting with one of our hospital partners and were able to obtain direct funding in the exact amount we were seeking for the first time in nearly 10 years!
Community Scholars Alumni
A & W Community Solutions
African Family Health Organization
Al Bustan Seeds of Culture
American Heart Association
Belmont Alliance Civic Association
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
Coalition of African Communities
Delaware Valley Fairness Project
Dept. of Behavioral Health
Five Loaves & Two Fish Unlimited – Hero, Inc.
Habitat’s Home Repair (Habitat for Humanity)
Intercultural Family Services
Jarell Christopher Seay Love and Laughter
Lutheran Settlement House
Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Nationalities Service Center
No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc.
Oromo Community Organization of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services
Prevention Point Philadelphia
Promise Zone Research Connection
Sayre Health Center
Sisters R Us Circle of Survivors
Southwest Community Development Corporation
Penn CSP is led by individuals who have committed their lives to genuine community engagement, with the goal of building a bi-directional bridge between community and academia to achieve health equity and increase the benefit of research to the communities it is meant to serve.
Nicole Thomas, MBA
Sara Solomon, MPH, RD
Lucy Wolf Tuton, PhD
Andrew Belfiglio, MPH