Project GRACE: A staged approach to development of a community-academic partnership to address HIV in rural African American communities
Corbie-Smith, G., Adimora, AA., Youmans, S., Muhammad, M., Blumenthal, C., Ellison, A., Akers, A., Council, B., Thigpen, Y., Wynn, M., & Lloyd, S. (2011). Project GRACE: A staged approach to development of a community-academic partnership to address HIV in rural African American communities. Health Promotion Practice, 12(2), 293-302. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524839909348766
The HIV epidemic is a health crisis in rural African American communities in the Southeast United States; however, to date little attention has been paid to community–academic collaborations to address HIV in these communities. Interventions that use a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to address individual, social, and physical environmental factors have great potential for improving community health. Project GRACE (Growing, Reaching, Advocating for Change and Empowerment) uses a CBPR approach to develop culturally sensitive, feasible, and sustainable interventions to prevent the spread of HIV in rural African American communities. This article describes a staged approach to community–academic partnership: initial mobilization, establishment of organizational structure, capacity building for action, and planning for action. Strategies for engaging rural community members at each stage are discussed; challenges faced and lessons learned are also described. Careful attention to partnership development has resulted in a collaborative approach that has mutually benefited both the academic and community partners.