CNNC Staff members holding mini chalk boards. This photo was taken pre-covid-19.

Evaluating the CNNC Community Centers: A Guilford College and UNCG CNNC Collaboration

We are excited to announce that The Center for New North Carolinians was recently awarded The Way Forward Grant from Bringing Theory To Practice (BTTOP). The goal of our participatory action research project is to evaluate the Community Centers over the next year and a half in order to track and understand their impact using data collected from Guilford College students and community member co-researchers.

As UNCG/CNNC has a longstanding, deeply collaborative relationship with Guilford College, we couldn’t have asked for better partners for this important project. This multi-institutional collaboration involves Guilford faculty, CNNC Staff and Fellows, student volunteers, and local refugee and immigrant communities.

Our joint Guilford College and CNNC project is entitled: “Evaluating the CNNC Community Centers: A Guilford College and UNCG CNNC Collaboration.” The Guilford College’s research team of students will work alongside Community Centers staff and community member co-researchers to not only design the study, but also use the data they gather to give the community an active voice.

Dr. Sherry Giles and her students, Community and Justice Studies majors, will be the first to participate in this exciting new project. Dr. Giles’ research background includes working with marginalized populations to provide culturally and linguistically relevant resources, therefore, she aspires to teach her students how to do community research that is sensitive and inclusive.

This interactive pedagogy will incorporate researchers’ firsthand experience to the research project while also allowing the community to talk about the services they need and want.

One student, Ree Ree Wei, is already connecting with her community. Ree Ree is a Bonner Scholar at Guildford College, majoring in Community and Justice studies. Through Bonner’s volunteer program, she has served at the Oakwood and Glenhaven Community Centers for four years! During that time, Ree Ree has interacted with numerous Karen refugees, with whom she also identifies ethno linguistically as a Karen speaker and Karen refugee. As many Karen refugees have been displaced globally, Ree Ree feels grateful to find community.

Our CNNC Director, Dr. Diya Abdo, articulates,

“Collaborations like this are beneficial for all involved, but this will allow students, especially those from the refugee and immigrant communities, to participate in research that affects and benefits their communities.”

Thanks to the support of The Way Forward Grant, this initiative will improve our Community Centers to better serve our immigrant and refugee community members, while also allowing us to embody our value of ethical community research.

We hope The Way Forward Grant is the first of many opportunities to serve the community and our institutions, as well as demonstrate the strength of the CNNC Community Center projects to other academic institutions, nonprofits, and property managers around the country.

You read more about The Way Forward Grant here!

Janie Raghunandan
CNNC Marketing and Communications Intern