Applications for the 2021-2022 Community Fellows Program are now open!

 

Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse: Community Fellows Program

The Community Fellows Program, a funding mechanism of Penn State’s Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse (CCSA) and the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), provides support for faculty seeking to develop university-community collaborations that address harmful substance use, misuse, and addiction, and its spillover effects to families and communities. These collaborations should be aimed at building sustainable, evidence-based or evidence-informed programs, policies and/or practices that can effectively address issues related to harmful substance use/misuse/addiction within a targeted community. Another goal of this initiative is to build the faculty member’s applied/translational research expertise. Toward this end, successful candidates will participate in webinars and workshops aimed at developing competencies in domains such as community engagement, program development, implementation and evaluation, partnering with government officials to promote evidence-based policy, and grant-writing.

Fellowships will provide funding for full-time faculty members for up to two course releases (or the equivalent time for non-teaching faculty) across one or two academic years (up to $7,500 per course release for a total of $15,000).  Fellows are also eligible to apply for Community Collaboration funds (up to $5,000 for community activities, described below).  Faculty teams of two can divide the course release funds between them. Commonwealth campus faculty are strongly encouraged to apply.

Application Process

Applications should first be submitted for approval to the faculty member’s department/program head. Once the Head’s approval is obtained, the application should be forwarded to the candidate’s Chancellor/Dean. The Community Fellows Call will be yearly, and for each call, Chancellors/Deans may submit two Community Fellows proposals. 

  • December 3, 2020: Chancellors/Deans forward up to two Community Fellowship proposals, along with their and the Department Head’s statements of support to ssri-seed-grant@psu.edu;
  • The CCSA’s Executive Committee will review proposals;
  • December 22, 2020: Faculty members will be notified of funding for the 2021-2022 academic year. Fellows should work directly with their Department Heads to schedule course releases.

Format

The application should be no more than two single-spaced pages, not including items 4-6 below. Items 1-6 should be saved in a single PDF document for forwarding to the Department Head and Campus Chancellor/College Dean.

  1. Title of project and name, program/department/ and campus of the candidate.
  2. Goals for the Fellowship
    • Identify the target community and describe what is currently known about the community’s needs/concerns regarding substance misuse and abuse that will be the focus of the university-community collaboration. [Note: “community” is broadly defined, ranging from a local entity such as a school or local health care delivery center, to a political entity such as a town or county, to a state government agency, but our priority is communities in Pennsylvania]
    • Describe potential opportunities for developing or enhancing practices, programs, policies, etc. that address the targeted community need/concern.
    • Describe the community organization(s) that will be the focus of collaboration, including the candidate’s past involvement with those organizations.
    • Explain how the Fellowship will play a significant role in advancing the Fellow’s research program and its ultimate impact on combating substance misuse and abuse.
    • Explain how COVID-19 could impact the planned activities and present possible contingency plans for completing activities under changing pandemic conditions. For current PSU COVID-19 policies for Human Subjects Research, see: https://www.research.psu.edu/covid_irb

The University has been allowing a limited number of in-person human subjects research projects to resume following the process outlined here: Procedures: Request to Conduct In-Person Human Subjects Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Thus far, only on-campus research has been permitted.  The University is now allowing researchers to request to conduct research at non-Penn State locations.  All in-person research, regardless of location, must be approved through InfoReady.  All research that can be performed remotely should continue remotely.

A few reminders:

  • The approval process in InfoReady is required for all in-person human subjects research, regardless of IRB review level; research cannot commence without committee approval from the OSVPR.
  • This approval is separate from IRB approval, since the focus is on precautions related to COVID-19.
  • Researchers wishing to conduct in-person research must demonstrate strong rationale for meeting with participants face-to-face during the pandemic.
  • We ask that leadership continue to be discerning and judicious in the research they approve.

Please see the Revised Standards and the IRB website for additional information.  We ask that associate deans for research work with their college and campus leadership to implement this process in their units, including communicating with your researchers.

  1. Activity Plan
  • Describe activities to be undertaken during the Fellowship period, including:
    • the candidate’s role and activities
    • how these activities will advance the goals of the Fellowship
    • strategies for monitoring and evaluation
    • metrics for success
    • timeline for goal accomplishment

[Note: a logic model will likely be important here.]

  • Describe the candidate’s qualifications.
  • Describe potential funding opportunities (e.g. federal or state agencies, local businesses, and/or private foundations) that could be targeted toward sustaining new community practices, programs, policies, etc.
  1. Budget

Prospective Fellows can apply for up to $5,000 to undertake the Activity Plan.  Please provide a detailed budget and justification for funds required to carry out the activities described in #3 above, and list any in-kind support or matching funds.

These funds are intended to support:

  • Creation of inter-disciplinary/inter-professional partnerships
  • Support for meetings (including travel)
  • Wages (for students; staff)
  • Data collection (e.g., needs assessment, outcome evaluation)
  • Program activities

These funds are NOT intended to support:

  • Travel to professional conferences
  • Computers; office supplies
  • Student projects
  • Funding for meals/snacks should be kept to a minimum
  • Salary for the Fellow(s) will be provided only at the level described above (2 course releases or equivalent time, with a cap of $15,000)
  1. Letters of Support

Attach statements of support from Department/Program Head and Campus Chancellor/College Dean including for protected time and from at least one targeted community collaborator.

  1. Attach a bio-sketch in NSF or NIH

Review Criteria

  • Merits of the proposal, including:
    • significance to the Consortium’s goal of combating harmful substance use, misuse and addiction
    • probability of sustained impact of project activities
  • Qualifications of the Fellow and clarity of the Fellow’s role
  • Clarity, rigor, and feasibility of the work plan, including the evaluation component
  • Support from the administrative and academic units
  • Support from the community partner(s)

Progress Reports

Awardees are required to provide a progress report at the end of the funding period, highlighting progress made and tangible outcomes (e.g., partnerships established, programs/policies implemented, proposals submitted/funded, publications and presentations; statement from the community partner(s) about progress toward impacts). Follow-up progress reports will be requested each year, for 3 years, to assess sustainability and longer-term outcomes and impacts of the community collaboration.

 

2019-2020 Community Fellows

Three community fellows proposals were selected for support in 2019:

Enhancing overdose awareness and prevention training within the Penn State Greater Allegheny and McKeesport communities- Katherine McLean and Sandra Trappen, administration of justice, Penn State Greater Allegheny, will work with Prevention Point Pittsburgh to expand the population of individuals trained to prevent, and equipped to reverse, opioid overdose.

Understanding the needs of Pennsylvania’s recovery community- H. H. (Bo) Cleveland, human development and family studies, University Park, will partner with the Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance to work with patients in substance use recovery.

Youth participatory action research as best practice: Empowering, healing, and learning with youth affected by the opioid and overdose crisis- Kristen Goessling, human development and family studies, Penn State Brandywine, will work with the Saving Our Lives Collective and the Penn State Center in Philadelphia to focus on Philadelphia youth who have been adversely affected by the opioid and overdose crisis and the emerging communities of care responding to the crisis.