Illustrative Projects

Our center provides research and evaluation, teaching and training, and technical support and capacity building for a variety of initiatives.

Community and Public Health

Preventing Sexual Violence in Kansas Communities

With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our center supports the Kansas Department of Children and Environment (KDHE) as well as the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence (KCSDV)’s efforts for the primary prevention of sexual violence in Kansas. As evaluator and technical assistance provider, our center supports training, community assessment, data collection, reporting, and ongoing TA for the state and subgrantee communities. Subgrantees working upstream to prevent sexual violence have prioritized community issues including housing, social connectedness, gender pay equity, childcare, poverty, and environmental design.

Diverse children facing away from us with their arms linked.

Assessing Capacity for Primary Prevention and Equity Efforts in Kansas

The KU Center for Community Health and Development is supporting the Kansas Coalition for Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention (KCSDV)’s new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded initiative, “Rape Prevention and Education: Assessing Coalition Capacity to Advance Primary Prevention.” The KU CCHD is helping assess the statewide coalition’s capacity for primary prevention and equity-related efforts, and develop recommendations based on assessment findings to promote health equity and advance primary prevention in future work.

Abstract paining of isolated people.

Evaluating COVID-19 Response in Partnership with WHO Regional Office for Africa

The Center supported participatory monitoring and evaluation of the COVID-19 response with partners in Kenya, Senegal, and Gabon. The project used "sensemaking" protocols to guide partners’ systematic reflection in what they are seeing in the data (e.g., patterns in new cases over time) and what factors may have enabled or impeded the response. As part of our Center’s work as a designated WHO Collaborating Centre for Community Health and Development, we supported development of multiple case studies that reported on lessons learned in the COVID-19 response.

Four African women in colorful clothing.

National Healthy Communities Study

The Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas is part of a prestigious group of research entities that was awarded a $23 million grant to study community efforts to prevent childhood obesity.

Man serving salad at a salad bar.

Child/Youth Health and Development

Supporting Maternal and Child Health

The KU Center for Community Health and Development provides evaluation and capacity-building training supports for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) maternal and child health leadership and staff. This includes implementation of a Maternal and Child Health Opportunity Project to provide funding to Kansas communities working to address health equity issues; training for family leaders through the KDHE Special Health Care Needs Family Advisory Council; and ongoing evaluation of implementation activities of the Title V Maternal and Child Health State Action Plan.

A group of diverse children linking arms on the edge of a swimming pool.


Our center received a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, to improve youth outcomes by coordinating community efforts to address community risk and protective factors.

Group of ThrYve students on an outdoor stairway.

Community Prevention Documentation and Evaluation for Prevention in Kansas

The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) has engaged our center in providing an infrastructure to support state and local efforts to prevent substance abuse in Kansas. We have provided statewide evaluation systems for data collection and analysis to support community capacity building and measurement of progress and community-level outcomes. Our center has provided participatory evaluation, documentation, and technical support for this ongoing effort since 1998.

Photo of KDADS logo on building.

Community Development and Capacity Building

Community Tool Box

The Community Tool Box empowers people with tools to change our world. With over 7,000 pages of information (and growing), and available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Farsi, it includes training materials for key skill areas, real-life examples, and technical supports for problem solving. The Community Tool Box is the largest and most comprehensive resource of its kind in the world.

Black child drinking fresh water from outdoor tap.

Project Aim4Peace

AIM4PEACE is a comprehensive public health strategy to reduce violence by supporting people active in their community and by connecting residents to basic services. The mission of Aim4Peace is to increase the community's capacity to handle its own disputes and empower citizens through community mobilization to peacefully resolve their conflicts. Our center provides training, technical support and participatory evaluation services for this initiative.

Man in Aim4Peace shirt pointing at a brick wall with the image of a Black woman and the words "A part of the community."

Developing and Implementing the African Health Action Toolkit

Our Center developed the African Health Action Toolkit at the request of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa. This Toolkit offers guidance for addressing health and development goals in local communities. It provides technical support for working together across sectors to change conditions to assure equal opportunities for health and development. The Toolkit provides questions to encourage dialogue, recommended actions, examples for different issues, and links to tools to support learning and action. As part of our Center’s work as a designated WHO Collaborating Centre for Community Health and Development, we support ongoing development and implementation of the Toolkit to help build capacity for intersectoral action.

African woman smiling, holding her young boy.

Community Tool Box Training with the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department

Public health staff and community partners are working upstream as part of Kansas City’s community health plan to address social determinants of health. We are using the Community Tool Box Curriculum during monthly workshops to prepare the workforce for collaborative action to make progress on violence prevention, structural racism, poverty, and affordable housing.

Front gates of KCMO Health Department

Examples of Past Projects

Supporting the Douglas County COVID-19 Response and Recovery

The KU Center for Community Health and Development received support from the Kansas Health Foundation to partner with Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and the Unified Command to document the local COVID-19 response and its associated contribution to flattening the curve. A local dashboard was created, featuring more than 700 accomplishments. This initiative helped generate understanding about what it takes to respond to the current pandemic as well as prepare for future outbreaks.

A sign in a garden saying "We are all in this together."

Growing Health Equity in Douglas County

With support from the Douglas County Community Foundation, staff at the KU Center for Community Health and Development partnered with Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health to create a Health Equity Report, released in 2021. The report featured data as well as stories from populations affected by health disparities in our Douglas County communities. This information will be used to guide future improvement efforts.

Montage of photos: Black Lives Matter sign, We're All in this Together, Protect Trans Youth, and several images of diverse people.

Latino Health for All

From 2009-2020, our KU Center was the lead partner for the Latino Health for All (LHFA) Coalition. LHFA was a collaborative partnership promoting healthy nutrition, physical activity, and access to health services among Latinos in Kansas City/Wyandotte County. Our KU Center led participatory evaluation and technical support for implementation.

The LHFA Coalition consisted of more than 40 active partners from different sectors and cultural backgrounds, reflecting a broad cross-section of the Latino and African American community. The LHFA began in early 2009 with support from a National Institutes of Health grant to our KU Center. It was sustained with grants from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local foundations, and our Center.

During its decade-long active period, the LHFA Coalition and its partners implemented over 150 different community/system changes in Wyandotte County to promote healthy eating, active living, and access to culturally appropriate health care.

Two Latina women shopping at an outdoor food market.

National Study of Community Efforts to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Our center was awarded a five-year grant as a scientific partner in the National Healthy Communities Study. Funded by NHLBI and several other NIH Institutes, CDC, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this national study examined what works in community-level efforts to prevent childhood obesity in nearly 200 U.S. communities.

Diverse children lying in the grass.

Evaluation of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation's Together on Diabetes Initiative

Our center served as the national evaluator for the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation's Together on Diabetes initiative, a $100 million, 5-year initiative which targeted adults in the United States disproportionately affected by type 2 diabetes. The aim of this participatory evaluation was to understand what was being accomplished by the initiative and to improve performance. The center customized a Community Check Box Evaluation System to provide the Foundation and grantees with real-time information about how projects were progressing toward their goals and objectives. Our center supported grantees and leaders of the initiative to reflect on progress being made, consider patterns in activities and outcomes, and determine what might be adjusted. Program evaluations, success stories, and lessons learned were communicated through grantee reports, case studies, presentations, and publications.

Black woman going for a walk in a rural setting.

Evaluating the Impact of Coalition Training for Substance Use Prevention in Lima, Peru

Our center, in partnership with Michigan State University and the Universidad Peruano Cayetano Heredia (UPCH), received a two-year grant to evaluate the effects of coalition training on implementation of community processes and associated community changes (e.g., new or modified programs, policies, environmental changes, or other activities) implemented by substance use prevention coalitions in Lima, Peru. As part of this overall effort to combat the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol, this evaluation helped to determine the impact of the coalition training and efforts on rates of substance use in selected Lima municipalities. In a capacity building aspect of this project, training on participatory evaluation and documentation support was provided to the coalitions.

Black-and-white photo of car going by in the crowded streets of Lima Peru.