Steans Center > For Faculty > Engaged Faculty > Community-based Research Faculty Fellowships > CbR Fellows Reports

CbR Fellows Summary Reports

​​​​​​​2020 CbR Fellows​​

Saw, A., Nau, S., Jeremiah, R. D., & Zakaria, N. b. (2021). Laying the groundwork for participatory research with a Rohingya refugee community. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.

2019 CbR Fellows

Molly Brown

Despite policy efforts to preserve Single Room Occupancy as a form of affordable housing through the Single Room Occupancy and Residential Hotel Preservation Ordinance (City of Chicago, 2014), SRO buildings are often sold to for-profit developers, which has led to the displacement of hundreds of residents in Chicago in recent years.

The study asked twelve eligible participants with the aim to articulate the extent to which displaced SRO tenants receive assistance in their transition to alternative accommodations. In general, the displaced tenants still seeks SRO housing after displacement in spite of the lack of trust of Chicago's officials. In 2019 - 2020 academic year, students in Fieldwork/Internship generated a list of housing, healthcare, and other social services resources in Chicago. That list was traffered to a Google Map with the hope to further assist former SRO displacement locate services in their area. 

2018 CbR Fellows

María del Rosario Acosta López

The initial proposal for this fellowship projected the second step of a larger project related to memory building initiatives for police torture survivors in the Chicago Torture Justice Center (CTJC) and in connection to the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials collective (CTJM). The first part of the project (2016-2018) was focused on designing the main strategies connected to the memory building areas of CTJC, specifically the creation and implementation of sites for storytelling and testimony-sharing. This involved the design of training programs for those who are now conducting workshops with survivors. In the second part, which we undertook the past academic year (2018-2019), we focused on the design and coordination of historical memory workshops for survivors and their families, and more specifically, on an oral histories project with survivors. This part of the project has been devoted exclusively to the implementation of these workshops and to the ways in which they can inform and become the point of departure for what needs to turn into a living archive that makes visible and audible, in responsible and effective ways, the testimonies and the history of this case, as well as its entanglement with larger logics of race-targeted and police violence in the city of Chicago.

Daniel J. Schober

The purpose of this project was to examine the self-management of hypertension among African Americans from west side Chicago neighborhood churches and use the result to help understand and address neighborhood-based health inequities that contribute to a substantial disparity in quality of life and life expectancy in Chicago.

This community-based research project posed the question: What are the barriers and facilitators to effective self-management of hypertension among African American adults, across multiple ecological levels – individual, family, and institutional levels (church and healthcare provider)? There were three primary research goals for this report:

1. Develop a culturally competent mixed-methods interview guide to administer with African Americans who have hypertension.

2. Conduct 30 individual interviews with African American adults who have hypertension and reside in a west side community.

3. Use the results of this project to inform the development of a hypertension intervention for west side communities in Chicago

The research team led by Dr. Schober developed a 10-item interview guide that uilized mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative), conducted interviews with total of 27 people, and used the result to support WSA's developement of Comminity Health Worker (CHW) Intervention. 

​​2017 CbR Fellows

Carolina Barrera-Tobón and Sung Park-Johnson

Carolina Barrera-Tobon
Sung Park-Johnson

The project was a longitudinal study of bilingual language and identity development of a group of children at a family-run Spanish Immersion School in the Chicagoland area. Barrera-Tobón and Park-Johnson sought preliminary answers to the following questions:

  1. What patterns characterize the use of Spanish and English by young second language learners of Spanish and heritage (native) Spanish speakers?
  2. In what ways are students invested in Spanish or English for their identity creation and how does this manifest itself in language choices?
  3. In what ways do language practices and proficiency of caregivers inform language attitudes, use, and proficiency of preschool aged children?

Researchers recruited 37 of 80 preschoolers to participate in the study. Graduate and undergraduate research assistants worked closely with faculty on recruitment, data collection, and analysis. During Winter 2018, Professor Barrera-Tobón taught SPN 391 Sociolinguistics of Heritage Language Literacy where DePaul students directly contributing to the research study. Research questions were defined by all stakeholders and a high degree of rapport with the school led to recruitment of almost half of the preschool student population. Data collection involved weekly classroom observations as well as the picture elicitation method.

Anne Saw

Anne Saw

The Rohingya people are a stateless ethnic and religious minority from Myanmar who have experienced widespread trauma and systematic denial of access to healthcare, education, and other human rights. Approximately 300 refugee families resettled in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago since 2010. The project sought to provide a better understanding of the assets and needs of the community in order to inform future intervention and research in collaboration with the Rohingya Culture Center (RCC). The long-term goals of this research are to expand the organizational and research capacity of RCC and to address health and mental health needs of the Rohingya refugee community through culturally responsive interventions. The research team led by Dr. Saw conducted interviews with service providers, conducted a thematic analysis, and developed a final report to be reviewed by RCC and distributed to agencies serving Rohingya refugee community members. The resarch team members presented on the project at the Asian American Psychological Association conference in August 2018 and the American Public Health Association conference in November 2018.

Senior CbR Faculty Fellow Maria Ferrera

Maria Ferrera

There are 2.1 million undocumented young people in the United States who were brought to the U.S. as children and who grew up knowing no other country to call home. Research on this population illustrates how they spend their childhood years being socialized into American society without substantive knowledge about their undocumented status. It is often in adolescence that their status becomes a real issue, as undocumented youth experience exclusions from work, travel, and education provisions for the first time (Gonzales, 2016). Despite the significance of this period for undocumented youth development, little is known about how youth understand these first-time experiences and what their psychological impact is.One aim of Dr. Ferrera's project was to examine ways youth with undocumented immigrant status sought to overcome their distinct challenges. A second aim was to draw on our findings to build mental health resources for undocumented youth and mental health, and school practitioners. The project benefited from DePaul student contributions from the course MSW 450 Positive Minority Development: Examining Narratives of Resilience Among Youth of Color. Through the course students were able to develop an understanding of the value of conducting mixed methods research that engages community members.

Meghan Condon

Meghan Condon

The inclusion of immigrants in American social welfare policies is deeply contentions, and the degree to which immigrants and their children are provided public benefits – like healthcare, income support, tuition assistance, supplemental nutrition, and housing assistance – varies widely across states and localities. The fellowship funded a community-based study assessing Latino young adults’ needs in the Calumet region,a community with a rapidly growing immigrant population that spans Illinois and Indiana. Because these two states offer very different benefits to immigrant residents, many young Latino adults in the region have different access to services, despite living in the same cultural and economic context. Through in-depth, semi-structured interviews, conducted in partnership with Calumet College of St. Joseph and other community organizations and DePaul students, Dr. Congdon assessed the educational status of the Latino young adult population in Calumet and examined the relationship between policy inclusion provisions and subjects’ educational and economic circumstances, and civic engagement.

Researchers recruited and interviewed young adults in collaboration with Ivy Technical College, Calumet College of St. Joseph, Prairie State College, The Gary Diocese, Lake County United Way, The Welcome Center (Immigrant Legal Aid Clinic), and Our Lady of Guadeloupe Catholic Church. A report was generated on educational persistence, recruitment to college, and financial challenges faced by current and potential students. Students from the course Inequality, Poverty, and Public Policy in School of Public Service directly contributed to the research.

Rebecca E. Michel

Rebecca E. Michel

The Fellowship supported collaboration with the nonproft organization Cara to evaluate the effectiveness of job skills training for individuals experiencing homelessness. The study explored how a career counseling intervention impacts employability, hope, well-being, use of strengths, and employment.

The research questions guiding this study were:

  1. How does a strengths-based career counseling intervention at Cara lead to full time employment status?
  2. How does a strengths-based career counseling intervention impact participant self-perceived employability and full time employment status?

Dr. Michel and her graduate assistant collaborated with Cara to design a Community Based Participatory Action Research (PAR) project to evaluate this training. Students enrolled in CSL 454 Career Counseling during the winter and spring 2018 contributed to the project and learned how to evaluate a career counseling intervention with individuals experiencing homelessness.  The research was presentated at the North Central Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (NCACES) conference in October 2018.

Randi Singer

Randi Singer

The purpose of this study was to improve and standardize existing health education efforts at a Chicago middle school in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.  The goal was development of an evidence-based health education curriculum addressing the needs identified by the Student Standards Health Education Assessment Project, U.S Department of Health and Human Services, the director, the faculty, and the staff at the middle school. The health education curriculum was developed around eight identified areas and incorporated evidence-based research in both format and content in order to keep middle school students engaged and deliver relevant material. The program has the potential to increase the health literacy of students and offer them tools to positively impact their health behaviors.  As a component of the study, nursing students were assigned to develop and teach lessons about teen health to the middle school students.

Singer, R., Crooks, N., Gilbert, J., Neely, J., & Lenon, P. (2021). Nursing Student-Led Health Education for Sixth Graders on Chicago’s South Side.  SAGE Open Nursing. Volume 7: 1–10 

2016 CbR Fellows

Jocelyn Carter

Jocelyn Carter

Childhood obesity is a serious health condition affecting approximately one in three children in the United States (American Heart Association, 2010). Disproportionately affecting African Americans, obesity is both a condition of poor health behaviors and social inequality. The research illustrated the importance of examining the role of culture, environment, and social norms in shaping health behaviors and outcomes in African Americans parents and children. The study included focus groups and survey data from self-identified African American parents/guardians. Participants were recruited from a charter school in Chicago which serves a largely low-income African American population. In examining childhood obesity from cultural and socio-ecological perspectives, researchers are able to inform the development of culturally-tailored childhood obesity interventions to reduce the disparity and contribute to the positive growth and development of future generations.

The primary objectives of the study were:

  1. To understand caregivers’ cultural beliefs and practices about health, obesity, physical activity, and nutrition using qualitiative methods, such as focus groups.
  2. To validate information from these surveys using existing questionnaire methods.

The CBR project was integrated into the course PSY 353 Abnormal Psychology during the spring of 2017. The team presented the project at the Society for Pediatric Psychology Annual Conference in April of 2018.

Christopher D. Tirres

Chris Tirres 

The project sought to address the following questions: What concrete experiences compel people of faith to be in solidarity with people who have been detained on the grounds of their immigration status? How, if at all, do these experiences widen the moral imagination? And how may religious faith inform this process?

These questions were exploredin a collaborative project with the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants (ICDI). The aims of this community-based research project included a) enhancing the mission of ICDI, b) enhancing classroom and community-based pedagogy, and c) contributing to community-based research. As the name suggestions, the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants is a Chicago-based non-profit, faith-based organization of staff and volunteers called to respond actively and publicly to the suffering of all individuals and communities affected by immigration detention, deportation, and post-detention through pastoral care, advocacy, public witness and other activities. The project intends to advance research on community-engagement projects related to ICDI.


2015 CbR Fellows Reports

Chris Einolf

Christopher Einolf

The project partnered with a service provider to design a survey about sexual assault survivors’ use of alternative therapies. Researchers consulted with experts on the treatment of sexual assault survivors in designing the survey, and pilot tested the survey with the same experts. The survey was distributed to sexual assault survivors resulting in 210 responses.  Interviews were conducted with 30 of the respondents.  The project was integrated into research methods and statistics courses and was presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies conference in Dallas, Texas.

Julia Lippert

Julia Lippert 

The project was conducted in partnership with Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) to better understand stressors related to food service work. Dr. Lippert held a series of focus groups representing workers from various types of food services establishments from fast food to fine dining in a range of positions from management, front, and back of the house. Students of the MPH 512: Research Methods course participated in qualitative data analysis of the focus group transcripts. Each student was given a copy of one of the focus groups to read prior to class and instructed to highlight any interesting statements or phrases. Students were then asked to work in small groups working on the same focus group to generate a list of themes based on the codes. The analysis was used to inform the final data analysis by the research team. The research team presented at the Health Disparities and Social justice Conference at DePaul University. In addition, Dr. Lippert's graduate assistant presented a poster based on their findings at the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Expo in Denver, Colorado.


2014 CbR Fellows

Janine L. Spears

Janine L. Spears 

This research defines a structured methodology for security risk self-assessments, aimed at small, community-based organizations with limited resources. Our community partnering organization on the project has been Healthcare Alternative Systems (HAS).

This research project essentially has four components:

  1. A self-assessment questionnaire,
  2. A scoring method based on answers to the questionnaire,
  3. Recommendations to improve security based on an organization’s score, and
  4. Dissemination to community-based organizations.

The first two quarters of this academic year were spent on developing the questionnaire in partnership with HAS. As part of the work with HAS, there were multiple rounds of question development, feedback on the language and reasonableness of each question, and revisions. With each round of feedback, the questionnaire was ‘tweaked.’ Early revisions were based on making the language clearer and shortening the questions. There are now 70 questions across 8 domains (topic areas). During the winter quarter, we also accomplished the second component of this research project: developing a scoring method based on an organization’s results. In the spring, I submitted a paper to the ARNOVA (Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action) conference, purported to be among the top academic conferences on nonprofit organizations. On June 17, 2015, a colleague and I submitted a conference paper to HICSS (Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences).

Sheena Erete

For the past three decades, scholars have studied neighborhoods’ collective responses to crime. While there is broad agreement amongst scholars that crime can be prevented by collective action, few researchers have explored how to design technologies that influence collective action against crime. Such research is particularly important in low income, high crime neighborhoods. This lead us to the research question: How do we design technologies that support the building of social and political capital in low income communities and build a technological solution to enable local residents to collectively address crime by building relationships with each other, identifying problems, brainstorming solutions, and connecting to organizations and government institutions that can help. Partnering with the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community), we conducted an ethnographic study with local residents to understand their values, motivations, and desires as it relates to crime prevention in their neighborhood. We then designed, built, and evaluated a technological solution that increases social capital and digital connectedness amongst local residents in Woodlawn. Results from the study helped us extend crime prevention theories such that they better reflect the role that technology plays in today’s society. Furthermore, by exploring online communications about crime in racially diverse communities that have be selected on the basis of high and low crime rates, scholars can begin to understand the relationship between online and in-person communication.

Suzanne Carlberg-Racich (Public Health)

Injection drug users (IDUs) are a disenfranchised population that experiences constant stigma  associated with being labeled a “drug user” and thus, a less legitimate member of society (Ware, Wyatt & Tugenberg 2005). This stigma has vast implications and is associated with poorer health – both physical and mental (Ahern, Stuber & Galea 2007). This project served IDUs through a partnership with the Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA), a comprehensive harm reduction program that works to counteract the stigma and disenfranchisement of IDUs through harm reduction service delivery. The aim of this project was to capture the meaning of harm reduction in the voices of those who use the services, through community-based participatory research. Specifically, CRA participants were engaged in a photovoice project, in which they shared the value of harm reduction through photography and the creation of a shared narrative. The photos and narrative were shared with national partners with the aim of using the material to give IDUs a voice in the advocacy process, by allowing them to tell the story about the critical importance of harm reduction in saving and improving their lives.

Sonya Crabtree-Nelson (Social Work)

This research project was a joint collaboration between Arab American Family Services (AAFS) in Bridgeview, IL and the researcher. The project aimed to explore the issue of domestic violence in the Arab American and Arab Immigrant populations. The specific focus was on the experience of domestic violence among the women who receive services from AAFS. The experiences and needs of 25 clients and 5 staff were explored in order to both better shape the services offered as well as provide support for future agency funding and community education.  Current research indicates a lack of attention to the specific service provision needs that the Arab community in the United States has in relation to domestic violence services. This project aimed to add to the literature surrounding the specific needs of Arab American and Arab Immigrants in the US who are seeking domestic violence services.

2013 CbR Reports

Douglas Bruce (Health Sciences)

Homeless and marginally housed young men who have sex with men (YMSM) face multiple adversities in their lives and exhibit significant health disparities compared to other persons their age, including stably housed lesbian game and bisexual youth (Cochran, Stewart, Ginzler, & Cauce, 2002; Gattis, 2009). In order to better understand how this population responds to the adversity in their lives, the proposed study studied resilience among homeless and marginally housed YMSM using community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods. The study reflected a participatory collaboration between the Broadway Youth Center (BYC) a division of Howard Brown Health Center and the Community Health Research and Evaluation Group (CHREG) at DePaul focusing on innovative methods to assess health among one of BYC’s target populations.

Maria Ferrera (Social Work)

Despite health care reform efforts, the Affordable Care Act still leaves 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States uninsured. One of the eight states that houses the bulk of these immigrants is Illinois - many of them Latino and densely populated in Chicago. Utilizing a community-based participatory resesarch (CBPR) approach, this study examined the impact of a program that is trying to address the healthcare dilemma of uninsured, new immigrants within Chicago’s new immigrant communities. The community-based, non-profit agency, Centro Sin Fronteras (CSF), has taken the lead on initiating the Youth Health Service Corps (YHSC) within two Chicago high schools embedded in these predominantly Latino, new immigrant communities. With the support of a group of teaching hospitals and clinics, led by Rush Medical Center, YHSC hopes to train high school aged students to provide education and pre-screening to thousands of people for Diabetes, Hypertension and Heart Disease, Breast and Prostate Cancer and HIV/AIDS. Each member of the Corps will commit to bringing 10 members of their families, neighbors and friends through the pre-screening process and provided those opportunities to enroll in diet and exercise programs at participating churches. Centro Sin Fronteras worked to develop this model for four years, developing instruction and screening protocols with Rush Medical Center. This study examined the impact of this YHSC program, utilizing a mixed methods approach that surveys and interviews the high school students enrolled  in YHSC, the friends and family who they have provided outreach to, and the medical professionals and organizational staff that have established and facilitated the program. Considering social network theory and utilizing frame analyses that engages neighborhood narratives (Small, 2002), this study examined the impact of networks among new immigrant youth in Chicago on the health behaviors and access to healthcare among Latino families in their communities.

Teresa Mastin (Communication)

This project was a proposed community partnership with the Healthy Washington Heights Coalition (HWH). The overarching goal was to aid the efforts of Washington Heights residents who are striving to develop habits that lead to a healthier quality of life. Specifically, during a three-month period, utilizing two-way communication, participants engaged in journaling and monitoring their food intake and physical activity in an effort to consciously process their daily habits for the purpose of making changes that lead to overall enhanced quality of life.

2012 CbR Fellows

Euan Hague and Winifred Curran

This project was a partnership with the Pilsen Alliance to collect, analyze, and disseminate data on housing, jobs, and health as part of a community planning process surrounding the future of the Fisk power plant site, which was scheduled to be closed in September 2012. We used data collected by students in GEO 133 Urban Geography Experiential Learning, a community-based service learning class, to tell the story of urban change in Pilsen from 2004, when our collaboration began, to the present. Ideas about future development and urban planning, developed by students in GEO 103: Urbanization, GEO 333: Urban Planning and GEO 339: Topics in Architecture and Urbanism will be used to stimulate discussions at community meetings in Pilsen. This project was an attempt to create a sustainable and socially just vision for Pilsen, one that allows for the preservation of this historically working-class immigrant community.

2011 CbR Fellows

Lisa Dush (Word, Rhetoric, and Discourse)

This project was designed to explore how personal, digital stories can prompt social action. Students ran an on-campus digital storytelling training workshop as their service, teaching charter school parents and teachers how to produce digital stories expressing their values about and priorities for education. These were then inserted into public spaces – both face-to-face and online – where the stories may prompt different forms of social action

2010 CbR Fellows

Cathy May (Political Science)

This project examined the economic sustainability of urban community gardens for employment purposes. Cathy May and her students conducted interviews with a number of community gardens in Chicago to analyze and assessed their strengths and weaknesses and employment initiatives.

Steffanie Triller (School for New Learning)

The goal of the Community Writing Project was “to provide a forum for creative expression in which people can share their experiences, examine their lives, and become recognized within their communities as writers and leaders.” Triller examined how the Community Writing Project encouraged its participants to develop stories through writing. She sought to advise the Project on best practices as the organization encourages the presence of writing and civic engagement in all Chicago neighborhoods.

2009 CbR Fellows

Neil Vincent (Social Work)

This study explored the strengths and needs of perpetrators of intimate partner violence who successfully completed group services and the extent to which they remain nonviolent in the months after program completion. Using grounded theory, 30 perpetrators were asked to participate in a semi-structured interview. Findings were disseminated through peer reviewed journals as well as community forums.