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Community-Based Research

Saint Louis University’s Center for Social Action research initiative focuses on issues of concern to the St. Louis metropolitan community.

Our goal is to encourage local communities to initiate research questions that the University can assist in answering and to connect community organizations to faculty members.

Similarly, we are available to consult with faculty on creating partnerships with other University departments, identifying appropriate resources and finding community partners in the region. Our staff can also provide technical assistance in developing projects and proposals.

Students garden as part of a service project

Current Research Needs in the Community

The center, through its annual survey of agencies, has identified a variety of research needs in the community:

  • Best practices/literature review
  • Exploratory research (including actual interventions and observational studies)
  • Needs assessment
  • Program evaluation

Additionally, under each category, the research area is identified (environment, health, poverty/justice and youth), along with the name of the organization and a brief description of the research request. You can click on each organization to bring up their online profile to learn more about them or obtain contact information.

Best Practices and Literature Review

Environment: Urban Harvest STL
Urban Harvest STL would like to collaborate with a University student to research biodiversity on our urban farm, the FOOD ROOF Farm in downtown St Louis. The position would entail researching biodiversity inventory platforms and evaluating the best fit for our project, then surveying the farm to complete the inventory.

Youth: Riverview/West Florissant Development Corporation
Research geared toward identifying resources and learning best practices on how to provide for needs such as education, counseling, better living conditions and food and personal care items.

Exploratory Research

Environment and Justice: Gateway Greening
Support Gateway Greening program staff and the St. Louis Alliance for Re-entry (STAR) research committee. The main role on the STAR research committee is to produce white papers on various re-entry topics, educating the public and service providers on best practices, new studies and where to find resources.

Environment: Great Rivers Environmental Law Center
Research interests include obtaining data on environmental pollution and health effects, particularly in the St. Louis city area.

Poverty and Justice: Missouri Jobs with Justice
In conjunction with out worker's rights board, perform investigations into employers around potential worker/public abuse. 

Youth: St. Louis College Preparatory Academy
Research on what barriers exist that keep some of our student's families from engaging with the school consistently and what we can do to be more accommodating to our families.

Needs Assessment

Poverty and Justice: Interfaith Committee on Latin America
Assist with a community survey to map the impact of migration in Missouri and St. Louis. This community survey consists of three levels: interviews with direct service providers, attorneys, and law enforcement. In addition, we have also sought to collect the stories of migrants, keeping in mind the need to protect their identities.

Poverty and Justice: Kingdom House
Needs assessment for families living in the Kingdom House neighborhood, in order to determine how best to use land acquired by Kingdom House to benefit the neighborhood using quantitative surveys, qualitative interviews and other methods.

Poverty and Justice: Southside Catholic Charities
Southside Catholic Charities' mental health department would like to conduct a needs assessment regarding the mental health needs of Latino youth and their immigrant families in St. Charles County. The researchers would need to engage social service agencies, churches and other community stakeholders, to survey both providers and community members regarding the need for bilingual, culturally competent mental health services.

Program Evaluation

Environment and Youth: Gateway Greening
Program evaluation assistance is needed to show the impact of Gateway Greening’s youth garden intensive direct service. This would involve working with Gateway Greening to develop an appropriate evaluation tool, assisting with data collection (for both targeted and control sites) and assisting with data analysis.

Health: Call For Help
Call for help would like assistance evaluating the long term outcomes of our programs and creating a tool that would help continued long term evaluation.

Poverty and Justice: Kingdom House
Research the long-term outcomes of Kingdom House programs. Contact and interview past clients to determine the effectiveness of the services provided to them.

Youth: Kids Enjoy Exercise Now
KEEN St. Louis is seeking assistance in measuring program outcomes. We would like to develop a pre/post survey that parents can complete regarding their children's engagement in and attitudes toward exercise and socialization activities.

Health and Youth: Let Me Run
Evaluate the impact/outcomes of Let Me Run on local St. Louis participants, including emotional and physical health, academic performance, and leadership.

Youth: LifeBridge Partnership
Program evaluation assistance is needed to show the impact of LifeBridge Partnerships direct services. This would involve working with LifeBridge to develop best practices; an appropriate evaluation tool, assisting with data collection and assisting with data analysis.