Public Health doctoral program alumna Dr. Cheryl Kelly, professor and associate dean for academic affairs Dr. Darcell Scharff, and Ms. Jessi LaRose from the Missouri Foundation for Health are the winners of the 2015 Sarah Mazelis Best Paper of the Year Award from the Society for Public Health Education. Their paper, “A Method for Building Evaluation Competency Among Community-Based Organizations,” was published in in the May 2014 issue of Health Promotion Practice.
The paper presents a practical approach to evaluation through partnerships between universities and community-based organizations, who often lack the resources or skills necessary to effectively evaluate the programs, policies, and environmental changes they implement.
“If organizations are to sustain their efforts beyond the life of a grant, they need to be confident in both implementing an evaluation and using the results. This paper highlights a process to do that,” said Dr. Kelly, currently an Evaluation Investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Research.
“One size does not fit all when it comes to working with community-based organizations,” said Dr. Scharff. “Evaluation capacity is so variable, and tailoring allows us to build on our partners’ strengths while addressing areas for improvement.”
Nineteen community-based organizations that received funding from the Missouri Foundation for Health to implement obesity prevention projects applied this approach, but the authors assert that it is applicable across a spectrum of areas.
“The methods and lessons learned from this can be applied to community-based organizations working in any area and with varying levels of capacity,” said Ms. LaRose, who was program manager at SLU during the project. “By strengthening their internal evaluations, not only can they demonstrate the impact of the work but it also provides them with the opportunity to make course corrections throughout the program.”
The Sarah Mazelis Paper of the Year Award was established to recognize peer-reviewed articles that make significant contributions to the practice of health promotion programs and enhance linkages between research and practice. The award was presented at the 2015 Society for Public Health Education Annual Meeting.