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Evaluation and Action Research Technical Assistance and Training

We provide evaluation and action research training to youth and adults through in-person trainings or webinars. Our team of experienced evaluation researchers is also available to provide evaluation technical assistance to community coalitions and networks, community based organizations, businesses, foundations, and government. We offer technical assistance and coaching to build evaluation capacity and assist clients to complete action research and evaluation projects. Evaluation technical assistance may be ongoing or time limited and can be offered as a stand-alone service or in combination with training.

Our team is also experienced in supporting youth and adult participatory action research (PAR) and evaluation initiatives. We provide training, develop training materials and toolkits, and coach program staff to support PAR from start to finish.


Current Projects

Evaluation of the California Community Transformation Grant (CTG) CA4Health
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
The Public Health Institute in California was awarded a Community Transformation Grant (CTG) to implement multiple healthy living strategies in 12 counties throughout California. The strategies implemented focus on reducing access to sugary beverages, tobacco cessation, safe routes to schools and increasing community use of high quality prevention health care services via community health workers.  In partnership with UC Berkeley’s Atkins Center for Weight and Health, UCSF’s Center for Vulnerable Populations, and the Center for Community Health and Evaluation, Samuels Center is evaluating the impact of the sugar-sweetened beverage and the health linkage strategies across all 12 counties.  Samuels Center is leading the sugar-sweetened beverage component of this evaluation; designing instruments, collecting data (including focus groups with youth and adult leaders, key informant interviews, FoodBEAMS, and online surveys), analyzing data and writing reports.

HOPE Collaborative Evaluation
HOPE Collaborative
Samuels Center is working with the Health for Oakland’s People and Environment (HOPE) Collaborative in order to conduct and provide technical assistance around evaluation for the collaborative. They are 1) developing and implementing a participatory evaluation process to engage and build capacity of HOPE Collaborative members, residents and youth to conduct evaluation on policy and systems change; 2) assisting HOPE Collaborative with tracking progress of the Community Action Plan (CAP); and 3) demonstrating how evaluation findings can be used to shape new and ongoing community engagement strategies, policy and systems change strategies and ensure sustainability of HOPE Collaborative efforts to build a healthy Oakland. This approach is providing HOPE Collaborative members with a forum to refine and develop evaluation methods for their work under the CAP; allow for Collaborative members to have ongoing technical assistance on evaluation; determine how the work of the members can contribute to understanding the impact of policy, systems and environmental changes/approaches to healthy eating and opportunities for physical activity in Oakland; and better understand the development of community engagement strategies.

Fresno County Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention (NEOP) Program Evaluation
Fresno County Department of Public Health
We are evaluating Fresno County’s nutrition education and obesity prevention activities funded by the Network for a Healthy California. This evaluation will capture changes that stem from nutrition education, policies, and strategies to increase access to healthy foods and beverages for SNAP-Ed community members. We will be using methodologies including pre/post surveys of nutrition and physical activity behavior.

San Joaquin Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention (NEOP) Program Evaluation
San Joaquin County Public Healthy Services
We are working with San Joaquin County on nutrition education and obesity prevention initiatives funded by the Network for a Healthy California. The Samuels Center team will assist San Joaquin County in developing an evaluation of SNAP-Ed funded activities. The evaluation plan will include assessing key intervention efforts through surveys and interviews.


Past Projects

 UC Berkeley Center for Weight and Health’s The Fit Study
UC Berkeley Center for Weight and Health
The Samuels Center is providing focus group training and technical assistance for the UC Berkeley Center for Weight and Health’s The Fit Study which is a 3-year cluster randomized controlled trial of the impact of physical fitness testing on children’s health and well-being, with a focus on body mass index screening and reporting. Our work includes guidance on the focus group script and protocol, moderator and co-moderator training, and consultation on data analysis.

Technical Assistance for the New Jersey Food Access Initiative
The Food Trust
The Samuels Center is providing technical assistance to The Food Trust in assessing the health and economic impacts of New Jersey’s grant-and-loan program called the New Jersey Food Access Initiative to encourage supermarkets and other healthy food retail development in lower-income communities. In this work we are providing advice and technical assistance related to a customer survey, appropriate design considerations for survey and focus groups, and input on the interpretation of findings.

Santa Clara County Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention (NEOP) Program Evaluation
Santa Clara County Department of Public Health
The Samuels Center has partnered with Santa Clara County Public Health Department to evaluate policy, strategy, and environmental (PSE) strategies that are developed and implemented over the next three years as part of their NEOP funding through the California Department of Public Health. This evaluation aims to measure the process and outcomes of the county’s PSE efforts to increase access to healthy foods and vegetables, decrease access to unhealthy foods and beverages, and increase opportunities for physical activities in communities within the Santa Clara County that are eligible for SNAP benefits. Policy reviews, surveys, focus groups, environmental observations, and interviews will be used to capture changes in communities across the county.

Kaiser Permanente Community Health Needs Assessment in Stanislaus County
Kaiser Permanente
As part of the community health needs assessment (CHNA), Kaiser Permanente of Stanislaus County contracted with the Samuels Center to conduct the CHNA for Stanislaus County. As part of the CHNA, we reviewed existing data sets, secondary data and previous community health and needs assessments, conducted key informant interviews with public health experts and conducted focus groups with community residents in English and Spanish. The combination of the data review and data collection methods was analyzed to identify the most significant health priorities that impact the community. These key indicators were used as a basis for informing initiatives for the next 3 years.

School Nutrition Workshops 
Commission on Dietetic Registration, American Dietetic Association
Samuels Center served as faculty for the American Dietetic Association Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management. Our session, entitled “School Nutrition Standards: Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation for Success,” orients registered dieticians to the environmental approach to obesity prevention and methods for evaluating changes to nutrition and physical activity environments in the school setting.

Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Technical Assistance
Kaiser Permanente
In 2005, Kaiser Permanente commissioned Samuels Center to provide technical assistance and training to Kaiser’s Healthy Eating Active Living Southern California grantees. Samuels Center presented a workshop focused on trends in changing nutrition and physical activity environments and behaviors, the role of evaluation, as well as a logic modeling training session. Throughout the project, Samuels Center provided technical assistance to the HEAL grantees through a series of conference calls that addressed the evaluation needs of the individual grantee communities.

Healthy Santa Clara Collaborative
Santa Clara Health Trust
In 2003, The Santa Clara Health Trust brought together community-based organizations, public health practitioners, health professionals, school officials, and researchers in the county in the Healthy Santa Clara Collaborative to identify and collaborate on obesity-prevention strategies. To aid the Health Trust in the management of the Collaborative’s objectives and plans, Samuels Center led all stakeholders through a logic modeling process that identified and charted the activities members could engage in to combat overweight and diabetes in Santa Clara County, which then served as a guide for their work. Samuels Center continued to consult with the Collaborative throughout the implementation of the logic model.