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CbR Fellows Summary Reports

2018 CbR Fellows

Children’s Language Use and Development in a Spanish Immersion Early Education Classroom

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.

Needs Assessment for the Rohingya Refugee Community in West Rogers Park

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.​

Undocumented Immigrant Youth Mental Health Study

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.

Local Policy Context, Social Services, and Latino Youth Development in the Calumet Region

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.

Strengths Based Career Development with Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

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.

2017 CbRFellows

School, Family, and Community Partnerships for Healthy Eating in a High-Risk Urban Neighborhood

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.

2016 CbR Fellows

Alternative Therapies for Sexual Assault Survivors

By 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.

Stories of Solidarity: Interfaith Engagement with Detained Immigrants

By 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. ​

Nursing Student Led Health Education: An Evidence-based Curriculum for 6th Graders in Chicago’s South Side: A Pilot Study

By 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.

Exploratory Study of Restaurant Stressors

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.​

S-Score Risk Assessment Methodology for Community-based Organizations

By 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).​

YHSC (Youth Health Service Corps) Impact Study

By Maria Ferrera


Maria Ferrera

The project sought to explore the processes of recruitment and engagement of youth within the YHSC program. Dr. Ferrera partnered with CAAAELII (Coalition for African, Arab, Asian, European, and Latino Immigrants of Illinois) and Centro Sin Fronteras to conduct surveys and in-depth semi-structured interviews with YHSC participants who were asked to reflect on their experiences in the program and its impact on family and community. They were asked to describe their engagement with the community and discuss the role the program plays within the context of their development and personal challenges. Findings of the the study were presented in at the annual Health Disparities and Social Justice Conference at DePaul University in February 2014, which focused on health disparities in the Latino community. In March 2014, findings from participant narratives were presented at the Global Cafe Event themed "Women Empowerment", sponsored by the World Engagement Institute in collaboration with the School of Public Service at DePaul.