Ethnic Studies Department at Colorado State University Unveils its National Center for Community Readiness

Colorado State University is working with communities nationwide to improve the health and quality of life for underserved and multi-ethnic populations through the new National Center for Community Readiness established by the university’s Department of Ethnic Studies.

The center is currently focused on two projects. The first, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides capacity-building assistance to underserved communities that wish to implement HIV prevention and testing. The second focuses on training health providers in the delivery of culturally fluent HIV treatment and care for underserved populations. The latter project is funded by the National Minority AIDS Education Training Center out of Howard University.

The CDC awarded $427,000 to 15 community organizations across the United States to strengthen community access to and utilization of HIV prevention and testing services. This grant provides the National Center for Community Readiness with the ability to expand and rejuvenate its HIV prevention program.

“We are truly excited about this opportunity and will do our best to improve health care to those groups who suffer from greater rates of health disparity,” said Pamela Jumper Thurman, director of the Center for Community Readiness.

The center is also working closely with the Native Aspirations Project, a CSU program focused on violence prevention related to bullying, youth violence and suicide as well as a project focused on increasing the capacity of residential facilities to lessen antibiotic-resistant infections.

The center uses the community readiness model that was developed by a team of CSU researchers. The model assesses the level of readiness of a specific group, organization or community and assists in implementing prevention or intervention programming. The model is a nine-stage, multi-dimensional tool that has been used in communities throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Africa and Taiwan to promote culturally and geographically specific prevention efforts.

The community readiness model has shown great success around the world. Its effectiveness stems from the fact that the tool engages community members and leaders to inflict change within a community. The model is both community and issue specific and builds cooperation between systems and individuals.

In 2009, the model was named one of the Nine Best Practices in Indian Country by the First Nations Behavioral Health Association for the second time. Barbara Plested and Jumper-Thurman, two of the tools creators, recently presented the model on behalf of the World Heath Organization as a way to prevent child maltreatment.

National Center for Community Readiness staff members include: Jumper-Thurman, director; Plested, co-director; Irene Vernon, ethnic studies department chair; Martha Burnside, NCCR trainer; Andrea Israel, NCCR trainer; and Sandra Stroud, CSU graduate student.