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Abstract

Efforts to combine the knowledge and skills of community residents and diverse professionals to bring about community and service delivery change are becoming increasingly popular, yet difficult to achieve. This article details, from the perspective of community residents and agency and university staff, the challenges, strategies, and benefits in developing one community-agency collaborative which has successfully engaged community residents. The program is located in a low-income, culturally-diverse, densely populated urban area. Challenges faced by the partnership included recruiting residents, reducing logistical barriers to resident involvement, joining together residents and agency staff, and aligning community and agency goals. Successful strategies in overcoming these challenges included responding quickly to community concerns, developing more personal recruiting strategies, changing logistics to enhance resident participation, increasing program visibility in the community, creating shared goals and vision, and training. Observed benefits include community residents believe their participation has resulted in personal, agency and neighborhood improvements and increased cross-cultural understanding.

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