Building Capacity Among Stakeholders for Community-Level Interventions: Empirically Exploring the Dimensions, Predictors, and Outcomes
Community capacities are “the characteristics of communities that affect their ability to identify, mobilize, and address social and public health problems.” (Goodman, et al., 1998) The first paper explores the meaning and measurement of community capacities through qualitative inquiry with stakeholder groups. This work, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Strengthening What Works Initiative, explores community capacity building through the eyes of intimate partner violence prevention advocates within an immigrant community-based organization and faith leaders. A participatory research process over ten months explored the domains of community capacity building proposed by Labonte & Laveracke (2001) to develop culturally-competent measurement tools useful for enhancing staff work. Results indicate that these domains of community capacity proved relevant to staff engaged in capacity building work and the measurement tools were useful for improving staff performance.
The second paper explores predictors of community capacity, or the readiness of residents to engage in a transit-oriented mixed-income redevelopment (TOMIR) project. Two low income neighborhoods were studied through a mixed-methods design. A well-fitting structural equation model revealed that residents with higher cohesion, collective efficacy, relocation plans, identification of neighborhood problems, activism, and involvement in neighborhood organizations were more ready for TOMIR. Qualitative analyses suggested that residents low in these characteristics experience barriers to involvement in collective activities and may benefit from household level interventions to develop capacities for community change.
The final paper explores the outcomes of community capacity using data from a community-randomized intervention trial. Earlier analyses indicate that Communities That Care, a community mobilization strategy for preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral problems, has heterogeneity in its effect on community change. Using a series of mixed-effect meta-regressions to determine the extent to which coalition capacities explain the variance in effect, this study finds that the community capacities of coalition member skills and linkages between community organizations explain 25% of the variance in community change outcomes, with no residual variance left to be explained.
These papers use diverse methods to engage key stakeholders in addressing problems experienced by youth, low income families, and individuals experiencing interpersonal violence. Together they improve our understanding of the role of developing community capacities, and as a result, improve the evidence informing community practice.