About the Center

The Center for Community Health and Development (formerly the KU Work Group) has developed widely used capabilities for community-based participatory research and for building capacity for community work, including through the Community Tool Box and the Community Check Box. Recognition of these capabilities led to official designation in 2004 as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Community Health and Development.

Our center is affiliated with the Department of Applied Behavioral Science and the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies at the University of Kansas. Since 1975, generations of Ph.D.-level researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and professional staff have carried on, and found meaning in, this effort.

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Group of diverse hands coming together in a group huddle.

Our Vision

People working together to transform environments and conditions to assure health and well-being for all.
Younger and older hands holding onto a small, growing plant.

Our Mission

Supporting community health and development through collaborative research and evaluation, teaching and training, and technical support and capacity building.

Primary Focus Areas

  • Community and public health (e.g., promotion of physical activity and healthy nutrition; violence prevention; addressing health disparities)
  • Child/youth health and development (e.g., childhood obesity prevention; substance abuse prevention; preventing infant mortality; promoting healthy youth development)
  • Community and capacity development (e.g., urban neighborhood development; training of leaders and change agents; technical support for collaborative action)


Our center has developed widely-used capabilities for:

Some Notable Achievements

  • Our center's Community Tool Box is the world's largest resource (over 7,000 pages of content) for building capacity for community health and developmentā€”available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Farsi.
  • We have partnered to form an Academic Health Department with the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, the first in the state of Kansas.
  • Since 2004, the center has held the official designation as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas.

Why the Center?

Throughout the world, people are working together to build healthier communities. They join in common purpose to promote community and public health, child and youth development, and community development. Locally, nationally, and globally, we are working together to understand and transform the conditions that matter to people.

Community work requires understanding. Through its research, our center helps address key questions related to the science and practice of promoting community health and development:

  • What aspects of collaborative action accelerate changes in communities and systems?
  • Under what conditions are these changes in community programs and policies associated with improvement in community-level outcomes in health and development?

Community work needs support. Through technical assistance and consultation, our team assists organizations and funders with core activities. These include community assessment, strategic and action planning, documenting and evaluating the work, and using information to make adjustments, assure accountability, and tell the group's story.

Community work demands capacity. We help build capabilities through training, technical assistance, and online support for being able to do the work and sustain it long enough to make a difference.

Social justice demands environments that help assure health and development for all of us. In our research, we seek understanding of how communities can be effective in addressing issues that matter. In our teaching and service, we share this knowledge with generations of community practitioners and students. Working together, we hope to learn and make a difference.

Center for Community Health and Development
Toll Free:
University of Kansas
Dole Human Development Center , Suite 4082
1000 Sunnyside Ave.
Lawrence , Kansas 66045