Since launching in January 2022, the Action Research Collaborative (ARC) has been Cornell University’s institutional home for fostering cross-sector collaborations and partnerships that benefit marginalized communities. In its first year, ARC fostered strong partnerships in New York City (NYC) and state to support several projects and community engagement activities that promote equity in nutrition and health, youth development, education and more.
In August, the Action Research Collaborative hosted its inaugural symposium in Manhattan. The symposium discussed innovative solutions to address inequities around food and nutrition, health, and education. Over 50 attendees convened on August 11, including representatives from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York State Department of Education, and community-based organizations. The symposium featured panels on equity in health, employment, education, and food insecurity.
Community Engagement and Partnerships
Last year, ARC partnered with existing community organizations that center equity in health, nutrition, education, and youth development to help maximize impact through action research or insights from ARC’s evaluation unit.
Field and Fork (Buffalo, NY)
ARC began a four-year partnership, funded by the USDA and the State of New York, to evaluate the Double Up Food Bucks Program—a program to address food insecurity in 23 counties.
Through this partnership, ARC’s evaluation unit develops and administers several evaluative instruments to capture data that measures Double Up Food Bucks program implementation. In 2023, ARC will use data collected to make recommendations for improving the Double Up Food Bucks program.
Boys and Girls Club of Harlem (Manhattan, NYC)
ARC partners with the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem (BGCH) to build relationships with youth and empower the next generation of leaders to make an impact within their communities and plan for their futures. In 2022, ARC partnered with BGCH to launch the Youth Advocacy Committee, comprised of 13 youth who will advise researchers and BGCH staff on research and engagement in their communities. Students will have the opportunity to lead a community-centered project of their own in 2023.
Salvation Army (Queens, NYC)
In 2022, ARC partnered with Cornell University Cooperative Extension (CUCE)-NYC and Harvest New York to lead 2 projects with families residing in transitional housing. ARC’s first project investigates barriers to utilizing support services offered at the Salvation Army Springfield Residence. The second project—a feasibility study that examines an adapted version of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) to include a gardening component for families—will continue in 2023.
Tree of Life Center (Queens, NYC)
In August, ARC participated in a Day of Partnership to foster collaborations between action researchers at Cornell and members of the Jamaica, Queens community. ARC is part of the Tree of Life Center partnership in Jamaica, Queens, which includes First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Cornell University Cooperative Extension, and other community-centered organizations to foster collaborations that benefit the Queens community.
Engaging with Action Researchers at Cornell
ARC engages with faculty across disciplines and colleges to support dynamic exchanges between community members and researchers. In 2022, faculty affiliates attended workshops, writing retreats, and the Cornell Center for Health Equity Symposium in NYC in October.
The Action Research Collaborative also offered two graduate summer fellowship for PhD students demonstrating a strong commitment to action research and community engagement. Last summer, ARC hosted Katherine Baker (PhD student in the Division of Nutritional Sciences and Aishat Sadiq (PhD student in the Department of Psychology) in New York City. Graduate students spent the fellowship volunteering with community partners, attending cultural events around New York City, and working with ARC postdoctoral fellow, Zeynab Jouzi, PhD to conduct a secondary data analysis to produce a paper about food insecurity and cardiovascular disease.
In 2022, ARC hired three full-time staff members:
Zeynab Jouzi, PhD: ARC’s first Postdoctoral Fellow continues ARC’s research endeavors with a strong focus on furthering action research in nutrition and food insecurity.
Geneva M. Hidalgo Nazario: Research Coordinator, supports and coordinates all research andpartnerships taken on by ARC faculty.
Natalia Rommen: Communications Specialist—the first role of its kind to be housed in NYC.