CP TIG Week: Kyrah Brown on Building a Culture-specific Evaluation Approach at Ubunto Village

My name is Kyrah Brown. I am a community psychologist and the program evaluator at Ubuntu Village, a grassroots African-centered community education program in Kansas. I would like to share some lessons from my experience working with an African-centered program that is addressing health disparities through community education and grassroots collaboration.

Ubuntu Village operates as both a Saturday school program and a hub by which collaborative partnerships can be formed to address relevant community issues. Following an initial needs assessment, Ubuntu Village will be partnering with other groups to provide a series of workshops focused on health education. It is important to note that Ubuntu Village is nested within a community that, for years, has been the focus of various interventions aimed at reducing health disparities (e.g. infant mortality and diabetes). This can be problematic particularly when such efforts fail to recognize or understand the cultural and community context. Grassroots programs such as Ubuntu Village are needed because they play a critical role in filling gaps that may exist within community.  One of my primary tasks has been to build an infrastructure for evaluation within the program and in doing so, I have gathered new insight into effective and responsive programming.

Hot Tip:  Seek out others who have experience or expertise in designing and evaluating programs specific to the culture you are working with. I found it extremely helpful and reassuring to reach out to various individuals who worked with African-centered programs. With many different types of African-centered programs, it really does help to examine and learn from the various evaluation approaches that are being used.

Lesson Learned: You must be prepared to be adaptive and creative. The process of building an infrastructure for evaluation at Ubuntu Village, although rewarding, has been challenging. I found it difficult to find information about African-centered evaluation models (outside of education programming) from which I could pattern my efforts. In the end I found it necessary to trust in my knowledge base and use some creativity in building an appropriate evaluation approach. 

Hot Tip: Using a culture-centered lens, in my case an African-centered lens, in every phase of the evaluation is valuable. Health disparity interventions are not one-size-fit-all, even if the target populations appear the same on the surface.  Failing to adjust your lens ignores the program context which, in this case, is essentially rooted in rich cultural and community values.  In my experience, using this lens helped better identify the needs and resources of the community.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating CP TIG Week with our colleagues in the Community Psychology Topical Interest Group. The contributions all week come from CP TIG 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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “CP TIG Week: Kyrah Brown on Building a Culture-specific Evaluation Approach at Ubunto Village”

  1. Dear Dr Brown,
    My name is Kelly and I am currently a student at Texas A&M-central Texas. I am working to attain my Bachelors in Science of Psychology. I would like to become a counselor that focuses on helping student get into college especially those that are first generation college students. I am currently taking a course that focuses on creating evaluating and creating programs that can help our community. Our city has had a growing rate of homeless people. Last Fall a homeless center was finally opened to help which I believed will help close gaps within our community. Like you stated it is very important to recognized those gaps and be able to aid our community. I wish you the best,

  2. Hello Dr. Brown,

    My name is Aaron, and I am an Senior graduating this semester at Texas A & M University Central Texas. I will be moving into my graduate studies in the spring of 2016. I would like to first say how extremely impressed I am by the community and program which you are a part of there in Wichita, KS. I hope that one day I may be able to make a trip there to participate in one your events. As I am in my last semester I am taking a program evaluation course right before I will be awarded my BA in Psychology. I was surprised to hear that there was little data you could find in African-centered evaluation models, but I must say what a great arena to be a pioneer or front runner in the building process. Being part of a cultural movement like this is the exact positivity we need these days. I aspire to be part of these type of movements that are geared toward empower others as I mature into my discipline. The Ubuntu Village website contains an abundant amount of information in it and I will be surfing through so that I can conduct some personal research into the subject. I wish you the best in all of your journeys.

    Very Respectfully,
    Aaron Mandzak

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