For the next eight weeks, more than 100 graduate students from the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health and School of Social Work will be administering surveys for a neighborhood-level needs assessment in Athens, GA.
The students, led by neighborhood leaders from Family Connection-Communities in School will work in teams of five to seven to collect data September 19-November 18 across Athens-Clarke County.
“This is our community’s opportunity to do something in a way that hasn’t been done-a DIY assessment that speaks to our assets and needs to shape our community’s future” said Delene Porter, president/CEO of the Athens Area Community Foundation and an advisory committee member for the Athens Wellbeing Project.
The project is supported by collaboration between the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government, the Clarke County School District, the Athens Area Community Foundation, Family Connection-Communities in Schools of Athens, the United Way of Northeast Georgia, and UGA’s College of Social Work and College of Public Health.
“Our goal is to use the data collected to monitor community needs, target resources and track progress,” Ms. Porter said.
The mission of the AWP is to integrate planning efforts and improve outcomes achieved by local institutions, organizations and community stakeholders through the collection and sharing of an open-access, neighborhood-level, longitudinal dataset that is representative of the county’s population.
In its inaugural year, the AWP will include a 15- to 20-minute household survey designed by researchers at UGA. Dr. Grace Bagwell Adams in UGA College of Public Health leads an interdisciplinary team from the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; UGA School of Public and International Affairs; UGA School of Social Work; and Research Triangle Institute International.
Each institutional partner has specific plans to use the data once it is available next year. For example, the Clarke County School District, in its transition to a charter system, plans to provide its new local school governance teams with data on each elementary attendance zone. The Athens-Clarke County Police Department also plans to use the data to strengthen its community policing strategy.
“We’re asking basic questions, but the answers add up to a map-both literally and figuratively-of how to improve housing, transportation, lifelong learning, community safety, wealth and employment, civic vitality and health in Athens,” Dr. Bagwell Adams said.