PNRC Workgroups and Teams

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee has overall responsibility for the management of the project. It receives weekly updates about the activities and progress of the workgroups and teams and endeavors to help each workgroup and team achieve its goals.

The Steering Committee makes decisions about allocations of resources, policies to adopt, or procedures for the Consortium to follow. Any team or workgroup can make proposals to the Steering Committee.

The Promise Neighborhood Research Consortium has created and maintain a collegial working style in which members are clear and open with each other about progress and problems and are supportive of every participant’s efforts to make the project succeed.


Intervention Workgroup

The Workgroups and the teams that make up the Intervention Workgroup do most of the work of the PNRC. The first tasks of each workgroup and team were to set short- and long-term goals, develop timelines for getting the work done, and then begin work on achieving their goals.

Each workgroup and team has or plans to have a neighborhood or community representative from one of the neighborhoods with which we connect.

We have four workgroups: Networking, Measurement, Intervention, and Website. The Intervention Workgroup consists of four teams: Programs, Policies, Kernels, and Research.

The PNRC has also formed Intervention Research Teams, whose task it is to work with one or more neighborhood on the implementation of interventions and the development of intervention research. The chair of each Intervention Research Team will be a member of the Steering Committee.


Policies Team

The Intervention Policies Team conducts systematic reviews of studies evaluating the effects of policy interventions on diverse measures of wellbeing in high-poverty neighborhoods. They use aggregated scientific results to construct menus of feasible, evidence-based policy options, which they then disseminate to the community partners of the PNRC.

Specific team priorities include:

  • Create a list of policy options at the institutional and local government level that create and/or support nurturing and healthful environments
  • Provide initial indicators of importance and/or extent of the evidence-base available for each policy option
  • Use established scientific meta-analysis protocols to identify, code, and determine the meta-estimate of effect across relevant studies
  • Consult with European colleagues who are conducting systematic reviews of programs and policies that support health among low-income children in Europe

Products from this team include:

  • Systematic reviews of the evidence for each policy option
  • A policy brief for each policy option included on this website
  • Drafted model policies based on the scientific evidence


Networking Workgroup

The overall charge of the Networking Workgroup is to build a network of neighborhoods and community leaders and behavioral scientists. We have developed a process for identifying people and organizations with a stake in the development of each neighborhood and have begun to work with some of them in laying the foundation for further research and intervention.


Measurement Workgroup

This workgroup specifies measures of neighborhood wellbeing and the risk and protective factors that influence multiple problems. These measures form a foundation for the development of experimental evaluations of interventions at the same time that they guide the evolution of neighborhood and community members’ non-experimental efforts to improve nurturance.

This workgroup is specifying measures of neighborhood wellbeing and risk and protective factors that would be targeted by any effort to improve wellbeing. Numerous reliable and valid systems for monitoring wellbeing and risk and protective factors in neighborhoods have emerged in recent years. We are also including archival measures of neighborhood functioning, such as: (a) substantiated child maltreatment; (b) out-of-home placements; (c) hospital reports of child medical injuries and asthma; (d) substantiated spousal abuse; (e) school attendance; (f) rates of discipline problems at the schools; (g) cash sales of prescription drugs; (h) juvenile arrests; (i) adult arrests, and (j) EMT calls. The members of this workgroup have extensive experience in creating and validating measures of youth and adult wellbeing and measures of risk and protective factors at both the individual and community levels.

The challenge is to make such assessments available to high-risk, high-poverty neighborhoods so that it is possible to track changes in wellbeing and risk and protective factors. Once we have defined an ideal set of measures, we will make them available to participating communities via web-based assessments in schools, community centers, and homes. We will start with school-based assessments of children and adolescents and add instruments for assessment of adult populations. Our goal will be to support annual assessments of youth and adult wellbeing as well as ongoing collection and feedback of archival data from the neighborhood. The system will support collection of data online from neighborhood members. We will pilot-test the system in a sample of neighborhoods in order to establish its feasibility and to facilitate the development of nurturing efforts in those neighborhoods. (We will seek IRB review once we know which organizations will do this work.)

Our website workgroup will develop user-friendly displays of the data that can guide neighborhoods to focus on the most significant problems and important risk and protective factors. Many of the displays will be designed to motivate and reinforce positive efforts for change, rather than emphasizing problems and helplessness. The display of data will show percentages of people or organizations or actions contributing to wellbeing, reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors.

The website will display data about wellbeing and risk and protective factors in these neighborhoods -- both aggregated across neighborhoods and for individual neighborhoods -- thus allowing residents, interventionists, and researchers to have feedback about the state of each neighborhood. Mrazek, Biglan, and Hawkins (2005) documented the need for and growing use of such community monitoring systems. However, much more work is necessary to develop easily used systems that contribute to positive social development in neighborhoods. Such feedback could play an important role in motivating and guiding efforts to improve conditions in neighborhoods. As Hawkins and Catalano (1992) have shown, data on the levels of specific risk and protective factors can guide communities to focus on the factors that are most important for individual communities and the data can be used to advocate for interventions focused on those factors. By providing such data repeatedly over time, neighborhood and community leaders can judge whether their efforts are associated with improvements in the processes they are targeting. If they are not, they can modify their interventions. Although such information is far more fallible than that provided by experimental evaluations, over time and multiple neighborhoods, such a data system can support the evolution of more effective interventions.

We also facilitate information sharing and networking within the PNRC.


Programs Team

Several PNRC key principles and over-arching goals provide guidance for the Program Team's mission and tasks.

  • Prevention of substance abuse and social, emotional, and behavioral problems, and the promotion of the health and well-being of children and youth
  • The creation and fostering of nurturing environments
  • Shared intervention targets at earlier developmental points contribute to multiple outcome goals for subsequent developmental periods
  • Producing impact at a population level (i.e., strive for neighborhood/community-wide effects) without creating stigma
  • Programming across developmental periods (e.g., prenatal, infancy and toddlerhood, early childhood, childhood, early adolescence, and adolescence)
  • Emphasis on practical and efficient intervention programs so that neighborhoods are not saddled with burdensome collections of programs.

Consistent with all of these specified PNRC principles, the Program Team goals are to:

  • Develop a carefully selected array of programs that can improve development of children and youth at each stage of development (from prenatal through young adulthood), choosing “best bets” for intervention at each stage for families, schools and childcare agencies, and neighborhood organizations
  • Outline how to map chosen interventions onto various service-delivery sectors across communities
  • Identify potential obstacles and facilitators to program adoption and dissemination, and then troubleshoot
  • Create a general template for interfacing with communities around adoption and dissemination of PNRC program array
  • Foster program-development research initiated by community and neighborhood leaders
  • Develop funding strategies for initiation and sustaining of programs


Kernels Team

Every neighborhood resident needs access to practical and useful tools, strategies, and methods to better their own immediate circumstances--at home, at school, at work, at play, and in their daily pursuits of life, health, happiness, and their dreams of their future. In keeping with this principle, the Kernels Team seeks:

  • To identify useful evidence-based kernels that individuals, families, schools, businesses, organizations, and agencies can easily and quickly use to improve their circumstances;
  • To develop systems of diffusion for easy adoption, implementation, and maintenance of such tools in neighborhoods for sustainable change,
  • To develop local ability and capacity to spread and sustain such behavior change strategies, and
  • To recommend ways to measure the effects of the diffusion of such tools for accountability and mobilization.


Research Team

Help communities write proposals for funds for:

  • Interventions
  • Surveillance
  • Evaluation/research

Help communities think through how they might:

  • Assess/survey their condition
  • Monitor program implementation
  • Evaluate the effects of anything they do
  • Get multiple communities to participate in larger-scale research led by us.

Submit or assist in the submission of at least eight proposals for experimental evaluations of interventions in high-poverty communities. We expect these proposals to involve a mix of evaluations of single interventions and experimental evaluations of comprehensive interventions that will affect not only drug use but also a broad range of inter-related psychological and behavioral problems.


Technology Workgroup


The mission of the technology workgroup is to create a system that helps identify, track, collect data from, and provide data on neighborhoods. Additionally the website aims to connect and network people within communities and give them the tools to share what they are doing. Specifically, we aim to build:

  • A repository of data on participating neighborhoods
  • The creation of a virtual network of individuals and organizations concerned with improving wellbeing in America’s neighborhoods
  • The collection of data in high-poverty neighborhoods
  • The display of data for easy use by communities and researchers
  • The support of interventions in individual neighborhoods
  • An online journal


Advisory Board

The purpose of the Advisory Board is to review the work of the PNRC and provide both solicited and unsolicited advice. The Steering Committee will meet with the Advisory Board four times over two years to report on progress and problems and to seek input about how the PNRC can be most effective. The first meeting took place within the first two months of the project. Many of the board members will also provide consultation to individual workgroups, intervention teams, and project development workgroups.


The Acceptance and Commitment Training Workgroup

The ACT workgroup is developing research on how to help neighborhood-serving organizations and neighborhoods build strong, caring relationships that help them accomplish their goals. One of the major challenges that organizations face in working in neighborhoods involves the tension that people can experience when they are working together to achieve important, but hard-to-reach goals. Tension comes from uncertainty about success, multiple (and sometimes conflicting) ideas about issues, long hours, and disappointments when things fail to go well. It can make it harder for people to work together as the tension mounts. Acceptance and Commitment Training has proved help to other types of organizations, the ACT workgroup is working with neighborhood-serving organizations to evaluate whether this approach will work for them. Based on our own experience with this approach and the research that has been reported on it, we think it could reduce the tension occurring amongst neighborhood residents and local organizations and, at the same time, could help everyone become more supportive of each other's efforts to make a difference.