The Detroit URC: fostering health equity through 
community-based participatory research (CBPR)
for more than 20 years

Four Collaborative Community-Academic Research Projects Awarded in Collaboration with Poverty Solutions

Four collaborative teams of University of Michigan researchers and community partner organizations have been awarded up to $30,000 grants for research projects focused on evaluating and strengthening interventions, programs, and policies that seek to prevent and alleviate poverty in Michigan.

This marks the second round of community-academic grants to be awarded through a joint initiative between the Detroit URC and University of Michigan Poverty Solutions. For more information about the first year of this initiative and the work of Poverty Solutions more broadly read a summary here.

The award-winning projects and team members are described below.

Overcoming the chilling effect: Identifying strategies for improving immigrant families’ acceptability and accessibility to health and social services that alleviate poverty

Clinicians have worried about the “chilling effect” the recent immigration enforcement and anti-immigrant rhetoric might have on undocumented patients seeking health care. As a federally qualified health Center (FQHC) in Southwest Detroit, Community Health and Social Service Center (CHASS) and other FQHCs nationwide play an important role for undocumented immigrants because they are required to offer primary care services at a sliding-scale fee to uninsured and underinsured patients.  Additionally, FQHCs such as CHASS provide on-site connections to other social services such as Women, Infants & Children (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), mental health counselors, and social workers, making them a critical community asset.

The leadership team at CHASS is seeking ways to ensure local undocumented immigrants and their families can feel safe and welcomed to receiving and accessing health and social services at their clinic.  In partnership with the Department of Health Behavior & Health Education at the University of Michigan (UM) School of Public Health, this research team will explore the effects of increased immigration enforcement on health care, and identify promising strategies for how Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) might modify their services or outreach efforts to overcome barriers to care for undocumented immigrants and their families.

Paul J. Fleming, Dept. of Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health

William D. Lopez, Dept. of Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, National Center for Institutional Development

Richard Bryce, Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS)

Partnership for Economic Independence

How can digital tools facilitate mentorship for an inclusive population? The Eastside Community Network and the University of Michigan School of Information will answer this question through an evaluation of the Lower Eastside Economic Mobility (LEEM) program’s impact on low-income participants’ psychosocial wellbeing and the perceived effectiveness of the program toward increasing employment and economic self-sufficiency. 

This project will assign mentors to participants from three Detroit ZIP codes; assess the impact of the program on participating community members’ hope, self-efficacy, self-sufficiency, social support, and perceptions of their economic and psychosocial development; and explore opportunities for digital tools to support these programs in the future. Broadly, the results of this project will lead to a more refined approach to mentorship programs that support economic mobility.

Tawanna Dillahunt, University of Michigan School of Information

Donna Givens, Eastside Community Network

Angela Brown Wilson, Eastside Community Network

Earnest Wheeler, University of Michigan School of Information

Breaking the Cycle: Refining the Trauma-Informed Clinical Ethnographic Narrative Intervention (CENITF)

In 2016, over 9,700 family households across Michigan, accounting for 24,766 people, entered an emergency shelter due to homelessness. The majority of these households were headed by a single female with one or two children under eleven years of age. Prior research has demonstrated that more than 90% of mothers who become homeless have significant histories of childhood trauma, as well as episodes of domestic violence and victimization that recur throughout their adult years.

A new project will expand upon an existing evidence-based intervention developed by a team from the University of Michigan School of Nursing and the Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) in Detroit, which has been used with women to facilitate their disclosure and meaning-making of traumatic life experiences, and support help seeking activities.

This research team has worked closely with the Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) in Detroit, an agency that provides emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing services to families, to better understand the life events and needs of their clients. This project will refine and adapt existing interventions for use with homeless women. The team will also partner with Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) and SOS Community Services to develop an on-site integrative care model that streamlines and sustains access to acceptable and affordable/covered trauma-informed health services for women from shelter to rehousing.

Laura E. Gultekin, University of Michigan School of Nursing                         

Barbara L. Brush, University of Michigan School of Nursing

Denise Saint Arnault, University of Michigan School of Nursing

Delphia Simmons, Coalition on Temporary Shelter

Richard Bryce, Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS)

Sharon Lapides, SOS Community Services

Kathleen Durkin, University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry

Assessing the impact of intergenerational asset building programming on the self‐efficacy, academic achievement and college going culture of low‐income Black and Latino girls

In the fall of 2015, with modest funding primarily from individual donors, Alternatives for Girls successfully piloted a new "Asset Building" model to encourage middle school girls and their families to academically prepare for high school, career and college, and to save for future post‐secondary education and training expenses.

Building on this existing work, the next phase of work will support up to 60 middle and high school girls and their families to prepare for success in school, career and college, and to save for future education costs by providing matching funds to all monies saved by families for college costs.

Moving forward, Alternatives For Girls is focusing on enhancing program robustness, further engaging parents, and strengthening linkages to other college access resources in Detroit. Dr. Trina Shanks, of the University of Michigan School of Social Work, will assist AFG in identifying and implementing interventions that can strengthen the existing program to achieve more asset building and poverty alleviation results.

The partnership is committed to serving these girls on a long‐term basis, and aims that each participant will save $1,000 to $4,000 toward her education by high school completion. Each girl will graduate from high school and enter a post‐secondary education/training program, and will complete a post‐secondary training program, or at least the first two years of college.

Trina Shanks, University of Michigan School of Social Work

Melody Moore, Alternatives for Girls

The grant proposals funded were selected based on multiple factors. These included: the quality of the research design (including the appropriate research methodology); feasibility of completion of the proposed study during the funding period; relevance of proposed research effort to communities involved; extent and feasibility of community and academic partner involvement; and degree to which the study builds knowledge about the effectiveness of interventions, programs and policies seeking to reduce or alleviate poverty.

The Detroit URC is a partnership of representatives from the Detroit Health Department, Henry Ford Health System, nine community-based organizations (CBOs) in Detroit, and faculty members from the U-M Schools of Public Health, Social Work, and Nursing. The CBOs are: Communities In Schools; the Community Health and Social Services Center, Inc.; Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation; Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice; Eastside Community Network; Friends of Parkside; Institute for Population Health; Latino Family Services; and Neighborhood Service Organization. 


The Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center
University of Michigan School of Public Health (U-M SPH)
1415 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

DetroitURC RevisedLogo Orig