2016-2017 Grant Recipients

A Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Blood Pressure Among Immigrant Hispanic Adults
Rutgers co-director: Karen D'Alonzo, Division of Nursing Science, School of Nursing
Community co-director: Teresa Vivar, Lazos America Unida, Inc.

Hypertension is not an equal opportunity illness and is likely underdiagnosed and undertreated among Hispanics. One factor contributing to hypertension is allostatic load (AL), the adverse physiological effects of chronic stress. Chronic acculturation-related stressors may influence AL and hypertension among immigrant Hispanics. The goals of this grant project are twofold. First, a pilot study will assess the effectiveness of exercise and stress-management interventions facilitated by apromotora—a community member trained in basic health education—in decreasing blood pressure and AL among a group of Hispanic immigrants. Second, an analysis will seek to identify coping styles associated with hypertension and increased AL in this population.

Creating School of Character Teams: Building Capacity for Student Success in New Brunswick
Rutgers co-director: Maurice Elias, Department of Psychology, School of Arts and Sciences
Community co-director: Aubrey A. Johnson, New Brunswick Public Schools

This project builds on a 2012–2013 Community-University Research Partnership grant to improve school culture and climate (SCC) at New Brunswick Middle School (NBMS). For nurturing a positive, sustainable climate in which students and staff became genuine collaborators, NBMS was recognized in 2015 with a national Promising Practice Award and is now seeking recognition as a National School of Character. The district plans to build on this success by expanding the NBMS model across all of its schools. This grant project will support the creation of effective, self-directed SCC teams within each school, thereby promoting sustainable change for student success throughout the district.

Evaluation of Breakfast After the Bell in New Brunswick Public Schools
Rutgers co-director: Cara Cuite, Department of Human Ecology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Community co-director: Patricia Sadowski and Jennifer Shukaitis, New Brunswick Board of Education

This project will evaluate Breakfast After the Bell, a program that offers free breakfast to all K–8 students and was implemented in the New Brunswick Public Schools in 2014. Researchers will conduct in-depth interviews with school administrators, food service and facilities personnel, school nurses, and family social workers. Teachers and parents will be invited to participate in online surveys, and schoolchildren will participate in focus groups about the program. By using this multi-method approach with multiple stakeholder groups, the evaluation will identify key successes and challenges of the program and provide recommendations for improvement.

Long-Term Housing for Domestic Violence Survivors: Supporting Journeys to Healing
Rutgers co-director: Andrea Hetling, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Community co-director: Susan Kramer-Mills, Town Clock Community Development Corporation

Dina’s Dwellings, a project of the Town Clock Community Development Corporation, provides affordable permanent supportive housing to formerly homeless survivors of intimate partner violence. Opened within the First Reformed Church of New Brunswick in March 2016, Dina’s Dwellings consists of 10 newly renovated apartments and provides supportive services aimed at building community and assisting women in rebuilding healthy lives. This grant project seeks to evaluate the housing program’s first year of operation, with a focus on understanding the new residents’ experiences and perceptions of its services and programs.

Enhancing the Accessibility of New Brunswick’s History
Rutgers co-director: David Listokin, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Community co-director: Robert Belvin, New Brunswick Free Public Library

Maps, documents, and photographs from New Brunswick’s rich past demonstrate that the city is an exemplary model for the history of industrialization, urban decline, and urban revitalization. Much of this archival material, however, is not cataloged or even publicly accessible. Working with community partners, including the New Brunswick Free Public Library and the New Brunswick Historical Association and Historical Society, this grant project will research, organize, and catalog significant materials; conduct a preservation assessment and plan; and develop a website to help guide researchers and the public to these valuable historical resources.