Purpose: Experience Corps Baltimore City (EC) is a product of a partnership between the Greater Homewood Community Corporation (GHCC) and the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health (COAH) that began in 1998. EC recruits volunteers aged 55 and older into high-impact mentoring and tutoring roles in public elementary schools that are designed to also benefit the volunteers. We describe the evolution of the GHCC-COAH partnership through the "Courtship Model."
Design and methods: We describe how community-based participatory research principals, such as shared governance, were applied at the following stages: (1) partner selection, (2) getting serious, (3) commitment, and (4) leaving a legacy.
Results: EC could not have achieved its current level of success without academic-community partnership. In early stages of the "Courtship Model," GHCC and COAH were able to rely on the trust developed between the leadership of the partner organizations. Competing missions from different community and academic funders led to tension in later stages of the "Courtship Model" and necessitated a formal Memorandum of Understanding between the partners as they embarked on a randomized controlled trial.
Implications: The GHCC-COAH partnership demonstrates how academic-community partnerships can serve as an engine for social innovation. The partnership could serve as a model for other communities seeking multiple funding sources to implement similar public health interventions that are based on national service models. Unified funding mechanisms would assist the formation of academic-community partnerships that could support the design, implementation, and the evaluation of community-based public health interventions.
Keywords: Community-Based participatory research; Community-Institutional relations; Intergenerational relations; Organization and administration; Randomized controlled trials as topic; Volunteerism.