The Community-Engaged Research Team Support (CERTS) program was developed and tested to build research and partnership capacity for community-engaged research (CEnR) teams. Led by the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (NUCATS), the goals of CERTS were: (1) to help community-academic teams build capacity for conducting rigorous CEnR and (2) to support teams as they prepare federal grant proposal drafts. The program was guided by an advisory committee of community and clinical partners, and representatives from Chicago's Clinical and Translational Science Institutes. Monthly workshops guided teams to write elements of NIH-style research proposals. Draft reviewing fostered a collaborative learning environment and helped teams develop equal partnerships. The program culminated in a mock-proposal review. All teams clarified their research and acquired new knowledge about the preparation of NIH-style proposals. Trust, partnership collaboration, and a structured writing strategy were assets of the CERTS approach. CERTS also uncovered gaps in resources and preparedness for teams to be competitive for federally funded grants. Areas of need include experience as principal investigators, publications on study results, mentoring, institutional infrastructure, and dedicated time for research.
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