The Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center (Detroit URC) is a collaborative partnership involving the University of Michigan Schools of Public Health, Nursing, and Social Work, Institute of Popular Health, the Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion, eight community-based organizations (Community Health and Social Services Center CHASS, Communities In Schools, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Friends of Parkside, Latino Family Services, Neighborhood Service Organization, Detroit Neighborhood Partnership East, Inc/Warren-Conner Development Coalition), and Henry Ford Health System. In addition, the Detroit URC partnership includes other organizations which are represented in the Steering Committees for specific URC-affiliated projects.
The Center was established in 1995 and funded originally through a Cooperative Agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through their Urban Research Centers Initiative. The Detroit URC seeks to maintain an effective partnership that identifies problems affecting the health of residents on the east, southwest and northwest sides of the city and promotes and conducts interdisciplinary, community-based participatory research which recognizes, builds upon and enhances the resources and strengths in the communities involved. “What I like about community-based participatory research is that it links research to action. It’s about gaining knowledge and using that knowledge to bring about change. The Detroit URC aims to put these principles into practice,” explains Barbara Israel, Detroit URC director and U-M professor of public health. The research and interventions conducted contribute to the understanding of the relationship between social determinants, the built environment, protective factors, intermediate outcomes, and long-term health outcomes specific to urban environments. The knowledge gained contributes to the design of appropriate public health interventions, programs and policies aimed at promoting health equity.
Some of the Detroit URC’s current affiliated projects include Healthy Environments Partnership, Community Action Against Asthma, REACH Detroit and Neighborhoods Working in Partnership: Building Capacity for Policy Change.