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CEA Affiliate Week: Grisel M. Robles-Schrader on Increasing Research Literacy, Evaluation, and Engagement led by and with Latino Communities

Saludos! My name is Grisel M. Robles-Schrader, President of Robles-Schrader Consulting and lead organizer of the Consortium for Latino Access to Research Opportunities (CLARO), based in the Chicagoland area.

CLARO is a collaboration of diverse community sectors involved in Latino-focused healthcare, evaluation, and research. CLARO is interested in promoting research literacy, evaluation and engagement aimed at improving health outcomes among Chicago’s diverse Latino communities.

Lessons Learned #1:  Latino-Focused Approaches are Needed. The “Latino/Hispanic” community represents a diversity of experiences, histories, and cultures. Latinos make up 1/3 of the population in Chicago, but are disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes such as high rates of asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and HIV/AIDS. These health disparities are associated with culture, behavior, acculturation, socioeconomic status and stigma associated with healthcare prevention, diagnosis and treatment options. As a result, there is an ongoing need for culturally responsive health interventions developed by and for Latino communities.

#2: Multi-Sectoral Partnerships are the Heart of Community-Driven Efforts. CLARO is comprised of community-based organizations, healthcare facilities, community members, universities, community coalitions, independent consultants, foundations, and government commissions that work with Latino communities.

During the past 12 months we have convened five community meetings, established a steering committee, identified a group name, drafted a work plan, and doubled our membership. All of these achievements are due to the volunteer investment of our diverse membership base.

#3: Mutually Beneficial Partnerships Fuel Ongoing Achievement. In this initiative members participate in a variety of ways including: providing student support, completing action steps, sharing information, and providing resources (i.e., meeting space, refreshments, etc.).

Members take on activities based on their availability, skills, and passions. We always have a rotating group of people who are actively completing activities and others who are “sitting on the bench” until the right opportunity arises.

#4: Mutual Respect and Open Communication. Community-based evaluation and research are inherently vulnerable to miscommunication and misunderstandings because of differences in values and goals each community sector holds. Communication breakdowns between these sectors can further stigmatize and reinforce negative stereotypes about each sector.

We encourage members to share opposing opinions or “play devil’s advocate” as it allows the group to consider the full complexity of the decisions to be made. As a result, we are able to create more effective action plans.

Rad Resources:

  • Community Tool Box offers free resources in English and Spanish to assist in building and sustaining successful coalitions aimed at improving community health.
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Get Involved: Contact Grisel M. Robles-Schrader at to get involved!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from CEA members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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