Community Learning Research Fellows Present Final Web Pages

The Center for Hartford Engagement and Research is pleased to debut project web pages that were created by our 2020 Community Learning Research Fellows. This competitive program allows selected students with previous community engagement experience to challenge their learning and perspective by taking on a research or creative project. This semester, six fellows are took on the challenge to design and execute a fully remote research project in collaboration with a Hartford community partner and faculty sponsor,  with guidance from Colloquium Instructor Laura Holt, Community Consultant James Jeter, and Instructional Technologist Dave Tatem. Normally, the Fellows would present their research posters at a final in-person colloquium, but this year they transitioned to create web pages to present their research virtually.

Each week during the semester the Fellows worked with Instructor Laura Holt to explore a series of topics: identifying a question and designing a research project, communicating a research plan, developing good interview skills and techniques, analyzing and visualizing data, designing visual presentations and posters, and managing expectations and addressing challenges in collaborative projects.

Fall 2020 Community Learning Research Fellows

Alli Futter ’23 – The Case For A Health & Wellness Approach to Addiction

Community partner: Yvette Williams, 2 Your Health LLC

Faculty advisor: Susan Masino

Visual representation of literature review process from Alli’s project web page

2 Your Health, LLC asked for assistance identifying and organizing existing research on all-natural holistic addiction treatment methods and synthesizing the resources available in order to apply for grant funding for a pilot program. Alli’s research had two major components: the first part of the research included identifying, organizing, summarizing and graphically representing existing evidence-based research.

Interview key ideas graphic from Alli’s project web page

The second part of Alli’s research included conducting interviews with key stakeholders and pulling out key ideas for each interview. This research will support 2 Your Health in taking their pilot program to the next step. View Alli’s web page here.

Malika Buscaino ’23 and Wendy Salto ’22 – Making Information Accessible to Hartford Immigrants and Refugees

Community partner: Commission for Refugee and Immigrant Affairs (CRIA)

Faculty advisor: Julie Gamble

Word cloud visualization of focus group themes from Wendy and Malika’s research.

Malika and Wendy worked with the Hartford Commission on Refugee and Immigrant Affairs (CRIA) to identify strategies to improve outreach to newcomer immigrants and refugees in Hartford. To do this, Wendy and Malika conducted, recorded, transcribed and coded focus groups with community organizers from grassroots organizations and other individuals in the Hartford area who work directly with immigrant and refugee communities.  This focus group helped Wendy and Malika identify public perceptions of CRIA and strategies for engagement.

Bea Dresser ’22 – Survivor’s Perception of Family Violence Victim Advocacy Services in Criminal and Family Court

Community partner: CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Faculty advisor: Ben Carbonetti

The CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence asked for research assistance to better understand the role of the Family Violence Victim Advocate (FVVA) role in each of the geographic area courts in Connecticut. Bea worked to code and analyze 130 survivors’ survey responses about their experiences with FVVAs. Bea’s methodology included inductive coding which allowed her to categorize themes in responses which the CCADV will use to adjust training of FVVAs in the future. View Bea’s web page here.

Brenda Piedras ’21 – Community Health Worker Policy Leadership and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Graphic on factors influencing CHW policymaking and advocacy from Brenda’s web page.

Community partner: Denise Smith, National Association of Community Health Workers (NACHW)

Faculty sponsor: Abby Williamson

Brenda assisted the National Association of Community Health Workers in answering questions on what kind of leadership training and/or mentoring would be necessary to increase CHW participation in policy-making and what information lawmakers need to know about CHWs especially in light of the COVID pandemic. Brenda developed an semi-structured interview guide based off NACHW’s March 2020 survey of CHWs and then conducted, transcribed, and coded interviews with 10 community health workers that explored factors promoting and/or obstructing engagement in policy-making and advocacy. See Brenda’s web page here.

Kevin Torres ’21 – Abandoned Property Research: Do Abandoned Vehicles Indicate a Blighted Neighborhood?

Community Partner: Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (NINA)

Faculty advisor: Garth Myers

Map on density of reports of abandoned or suspicious vehicles by Dave Tatem

Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (NINA) asked for assistance identifying problem properties including crime hot-spots or sources of blight before they affect the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood. Kevin’s research explored the density of blight in specified neighborhoods and explored whether abandoned vehicles were a predictor or indicator of a blighted neighborhood. This process will help NINA engage property owners in repairing their properties before substantial community and governmental investment of resources becomes necessary. View Kevin’s web page here.

To learn more about the Community Learning Research Fellows Program, visit or contact Community Learning Director