CHHS Professors Receive Cahill Grant for Interprofessional Collaborative Project

CHHS Professors Receive Cahill Grant for Interprofessional Collaborative Project

CHHS Assistant Professors Sabrina Cherry (SHAHS) and Athena Kolbe (SSW) received a Cahill Grant Award for their interprofessional collaborative project titled LINC Collaborative: Framing Community-Based Recidivism Deterrent Initiatives.

Leading Into New Communities (LINC) is a non-profit organization in Wilmington, NC that provides traditional living and case management services to meet the immediate needs of men and women returning from prison. Offender recidivism happens when people serve time in the criminal justice system and are released but end up back in jail or prison again. LINC’s mission is to educate and motivate youth to make positive life choices, and empower men and women returning from incarceration to be productive members of our community.

Cherry and Kolbe’s research project is focused on the LITE program at LINC, which provides culturally specific youth development services for African American young men. Training includes community engagement, taking care of their family, fatherhood, budgeting and social-skills development.

LINC has been coordinating the LITE program for some years, and they are ready to evaluate the program for effectiveness. The goal is to see if it can be modeled or duplicated as an evidence-based program. By way of their Cahill Grant, Cherry and Kolbe plan to do just that, through qualitative interviewing with individuals connected to the LITE program. Interviews will include questions regarding life experiences and feedback from the program.

Cherry and Kolbe are collaborating with MSW and BSW students to help with data collection and analysis. Last fall, they trained their student research assistants on qualitative data collection techniques in an interview environment with populations different from them. This demonstrates two of CHHS’ strategic goals—1) empower students through excellence in teaching and learning and 2) foster excellence in research, scholarly activity and innovation—in action.

This semester, Cherry and Kolbe are helping students with the logistics of data collection, such as scheduling interviews, deciding who is going to conduct interviews on what days of the week and how/what would that look like. They hope to begin data collection by the beginning of March and have already received Institutional Review Board approval for their study.

In addition, they submitted two research proposals for a poster presentation and panel discussion to the 12th Annual Conference on Applied Learning in Higher Education (CAHLE) and both were accepted. The conference will be held on the UNCW campus March 8-10 and is in partnership with Missouri Western State University. Student researchers will attend and help Cherry and Kolbe present.

“Students are actually first authors,” Cherry said. “Hopefully the students are learning a lot and having a great experience. We hope that it is a holistic experience for them and that they do something that is a direct impact and benefit to the community, but also leaves them thinking ‘Wow, now I know how to do this different type of research and work with these other populations.’”

Cherry and Kolbe believe their project is especially noteworthy, because it is a great example of interdisciplinary collaboration that involves student researchers, faculty researchers from the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences and School of Social Work, and LINC, a long-standing community organization.

Cherry became interested in working with incarcerated populations when she was a graduate student at Emory University. As part of their Theological Studies Program, students could design a course and teach at the maximum-security prison. There, she enjoyed hearing inmates’ stories and getting to know them as people, rather than as just inmates.

Kolbe has conducted large-scale studies with incarcerated populations and is highly skilled in unique qualitative data collection and analysis. Her main areas of research interests include human rights, needs assessment and international social work.

Cherry adds that she would like to thank Dr. Kristin Bolton for her mentorship through this whole experience.

“Kristin knew that Athena and I both had experience with this population,” she said, “but also valued our unique skillsets and what we could both bring to the study. She has been an excellent collaborator, and I just really appreciate her as a faculty peer.”