Building community participatory research coalitions from the ground up: the Philadelphia area research community coalition.Prog Community Health Partnersh. 2009 Spring; 3(1):61-72.PC
A coalition of formal, large organizations and informal, grassroots organizations, recruited through an open process, contrasts with the usual practice of developing a community-based participatory research (CBPR) coalition with a small number of well-developed organizations.
This paper describes the process, developmental challenges, and accomplishments of the Philadelphia Area Research Community Coalition (PARCC).
The University of Pennsylvania-Cheyney University of Pennsylvania EXPORT Center established the PARCC, an academic-community research partnership of twenty-two diverse organizations of variable size and with variable experience in health research. The EXPORT Center provided the infrastructure and staff support needed to engage in sustained, face-to-face community outreach and to nurture, coordinate, and facilitate the 2.5-year developmental process. The start-up process, governing principles, activities, challenges, and lessons learned are described.
Since its inception, PARCC established core work groups, a governance structure, operating principles, research training activities, community health education projects, and several PARCC-affiliated research projects. Organizations across the spectrum of developmental capacity were major contributors to PARCC. The success of PARCC was based on committed and trusted leadership, preexisting relationships, trust among members from the community and academia, research training, extensive time commitment of members to the coalition's work, and rapid development of work group activities.
Building a CBPR coalition from the ground up involving organizations of diverse size and at various stages of development presents unique challenges that can be overcome with committed leadership, clear governance principles, and appropriate infrastructure. Engagement in community-based research during the early stages, while still developing trust, structure, and governance procedures can be accomplished as long as training of all partners is conducted and the trust building is not ignored.