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PAR Training Program


  1. This introductory workshop focuses on the power and potential of community-based organizations to interrupt community dynamics that sustain embedded inequalities in health and related areas. The workshop will use an ecological model approach to help CBOs to analyze their position in low resourced communities. Examples will show how research can empower providers, organizers and residents.An empowerment approach to services and organizing based on interactive story telling will be demonstrated that enables staff and clients/constituencies to take power and perform action in their own lives and on behalf of others.


Learning objectives: 

  1. Participants will be able to use an ecological model to analyze power structures and power differentials
  2. Participants will be able to describe case examples from community providers about how they were empowered to work more effectively with clients by engaging them in structured dialogues about their lived experience.
  3. Participants will be able describe an empowerment approach to counseling/organizing that uses interactive story-telling and self-efficacy solution focused approaches to build on clients/constituent strengths.


These two workshops will focus on developing capacity for in-depth interactive conversations (interviewing) between providers and clients to understand and portray the impact of social determinants of health on their lives. 


2a. Inequality Conversation: This workshop will help organizations to understand how the root causes of inequity affect their clients and constituencies. Participants will create a group mental mapping approach to the social/structural determinants (SDOH) of health and mental health in the community based on their own experiences (and supported by other literature). They will use the model to create open ended semi-structured questions for clients and constituencies that help them tell their stories in a more holistic way.  Participants will gain an introduction to good open ended interviewing techniques. Using an existing guide for semi-structured open-ended interviews, participants will try these questions out and write down the answers between workshop a and b.


Learning objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to create an individual and a group mental map  to show how SDOH affects the health and well-being of their clients. They will take the model with them.
  2. Participants will learn how to use the components of the mental maps specifically to investigate different social determinants of health and how they impact clients and community.


2b. Empowerment “conversations”.  This workshop will review the results of the conversations participants engage in during the period between workshop 2a and 2b, identifying patterns across interviews linked to the model. Discussion will focus on how these interviews can provide an opportunity for personal and social change, and how they can be used to change approaches to service delivery.  Facilitator will model an empowerment (solution focused) interview.


Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to conduct interactive in-depth interviewing with clients to understand the SDOH context of their health-related problems
  2. Participants will be able to see patterns of similarity and difference across interviews
  3. Participants will be able to identify from patterns, potential directions for changes in services, and advocacy promotion.

Using information to create justifications for new projects, programs, or direction.

Often organizations find it difficult to build a good argument for a program they believe is important for their clients or an organizing direction. This workshop will help attendees build an argument for a new program or direction in their work. It will start with building a program mental model, or a diagram (theory) that explains why the program is necessary and how it will work to produce results. They will use a widely used approach to transform this program “theory” into a specific set of actions/activities based on community strengths and resources and other knowledge of the local community. It will also include a quick introduction to sources of secondary data that can strengthen their argument including organizational data, and relevant national, state and/or local data and Google Scholar.

Learning objectives

  1. Participants will be able to build a programmatic mental model
  2. Participants will use a solution focused approach to identify resources and capacities to deliver the program
  3. Participants will learn how to construct an argument for their program using the program mental model, resource and capacities and secondary information sources.

Mapping inequities in space (special workshop)

Using spatial mapping to highlight health and access disparities. This workshop led by an experienced mapping expert, and an experienced social mapper, will demonstrate ways that mapping information in space can show the unequal distribution of specific disparities for program targeting and socially vulnerable areas for focusing concerns on social determinants of health (such as housing, technology availability, food security, health care etc.).  Approaches to mapping will include using paper maps, hand drawn maps, social maps, and body maps.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to use paper maps and hand drawn map distribution of “things/facts” in space (places where violence occurs, where COVID cases are highest, places where unstably housed people live, socioeconomic differences across spatial units).
  2. Participants will describe how tracking spatially over time can show persistent versus temporary inequalities.
  3. Participants will be able to create a social map of an identified social issue (safe routes to school, places where youth gather etc.).
  4. Participants will be able to use a body map to identify why, where and how clients experience stress and the language they use to express it.

Understanding changes in the community for program/organizing planning.

This is a series of three workshops focused on rapid cost effective, easy to implement assessments to understand continuously changing situation in the community.


  1. Collecting information from community people in community settings about their perspectives. In this workshop you will learn how to take advantage of community events (fairs, outreach activities, popup education and vaccine settings, basketball courts) and your own staff to collect information to learn about current issues, changing contexts and needs, new beliefs and norms, and possible solutions to ongoing problems from people in the community.  Information collection methods include brief surveys, short focused “conversations”, videoed brief interviews, stories and games.


Learning objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to identify collective spaces and events and discuss appropriate approaches to participation/attendance and information collection at different types of events
  2. Participants will be able to develop and practice: a) a brief survey for rapid public administration in a public event on a single topic: b) open ended questions that can be used in indepth interviews; c) how to record responses; d) how to analyze responses. e) ethical issues in administration

  1. Inexpensive and efficient ways of collecting different types of stories about services quality, personal experiences and client needs. The workshop is based on the idea that both front line providers and clients or community members have their own stories and experiences about what they need, are doing, could be doing and would like to see happen for themselves and others in the future. These stories can be collected over time and analyzed for service improvement or organizing strategies; and can provide testimony when advocating for client and community needs.  It will focus on different types of interviews that can be used with staffs, clients, community members, other stakeholders (in-depth individual and group formal and informal interviews, zoom interviews, community conversations, listening tours).  It will include ethics, recording, organizing and analyzing information efficiently.


Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to obtain a rich and complex story from another person using in person and zoom indepth techniques and to construct testimony from it.
  2. Participants will learn the steps to create a community conversation for accessing and providing information.

  1. Inexpensive and efficient alternative/innovative/creative ways of collecting information to help understand client and community needs. There are many inexpensive and time efficient ways of collecting useful information from others (staffs and residents) about their lives and what is going on in the community.  These can include:  a) counts of people, events, over time from primary and secondary data sources;  b) sorting exercises to find out what groups think is important – what matters;  mind mapping (word associations and frequencies), sorting exercises (pilesorts) to learn how people classify important issues, sociograms (friendship/family networks to find out who the important influencers are), genograms (to see how an illness or behavior may be passed down from generation to generation, or patterns of family change over time) and timelines (personal time lines showing critical moments in a person’s life or the life of a community).


Learning objectives

  1. Participants will demonstrate how and why they will use one or more alternative technique to collect information from clients or community stakeholders.
  2. Participants will be able to list alternative techniques and prioritize them for their own use.
  3. Participants will be able to list three sources for more information on these techniques.

Knowing if you are making a difference/having an impact

Answering the question of whether your work made a difference. What ways are there to evaluate your organization’s impact on clients/constituents, personnel, the community at large. This workshop will use an ecological model to help organizations decide where they want to locate their impact, what they want their impact to be assess feasibility of evaluating outcomes/impact, and present different approaches and designs for doing so that are cost effective and implementable.


Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will use an ecological map to identify location of desired social impacts, priorities.
  2. Participants will recognize the limitations and advantages of typical approaches to impact assessment

Final session and evaluation: Building activist research collectives. Examples and planning for how coalitions can work together to plan action research agendas together and put them into place, with planning practice.