Community Collaboration and Practicum

Affiliates/Community Partners

The following are some of the organizations have collaborated with the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences on community-based projects. These projects typically involve faculty, staff, and students, and provide a variety of exciting opportunities to make a difference in the community.

Asbury Heights

The Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences has a long and well-established relationship with Asbury Heights, a long-term care facility operated by the United Methodist Services for the Aging. Asbury Heights provides a continuum of care for senior adults through: apartment and townhouse living; assisted living accommodations, nursing care, and Alzheimer's Disease care. John Zanardelli, the CEO, is an adjunct faculty in BCHS and he is pursuing specialized evaluation studies in conjunction with the BCHS Evaluation Science Institute. In addition, faculty from BCHS have worked with Asbury on resident satisfaction surveys and also have assisted with enhancing the evaluation capabilities of the organization. Asbury also is supporting a BCHS Doctoral Internship in Evaluation Studies. The initial intern, Roderick Harris, a BCHS doctoral student, is designing and will implement an evaluation of the “Seniorcize” falls prevention initiative at Asbury Heights.

Pittsburgh/Allegheny County Healthy Start

Healthy Start, a program of the Allegheny County Health Department, is a national demonstration initiative funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is designed to identify a broad range of community-driven strategies and interventions that could reduce infant mortality and the number of low birth weight babies in communities experiencing high infant mortality rates.

The Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences has worked closely with the Healthy Start project since its inception, assisting with the initial needs assessment and providing ongoing coordination of the evaluation of the project. Healthy Start staff regularly make presentations at BCHS maternal and child health classes. A number of students have had the opportunity to work on practicum or essay projects with Healthy Start.

EveryChild, Inc.

EveryChild, Inc. was founded in 1997 to address significant gaps in permanency services to children with special needs and their families in Western Pennsylvania. Every Child, Inc. receives referrals of children and families from child welfare agencies in the Western Pennsylvania area. The agency is supported by purchase-of-service contracts with child welfare agencies, state and federal grants, foundations, and individual and community contributions. All services to children and families are free of charge. Since it began, Every Child, Inc. has helped ensure that over 2500 children with special needs are growing up in the families they deserve.

Student teams from the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences have worked with EC on the design and implementation of evaluation strategies for their comprehensive services programs for pregnant women and young children. In the future BCHS will be assisting in the development and implementation of health promotion and disease prevention initiatives for EC staff and their clients.

Hosanna House, Inc.

Hosanna House is a multipurpose community center located in Wilkinsburg. It serves over 27,000 people a year with a focus on the health and welfare of youth, families, and individuals in the community. Hosanna House provides a variety of services and programs that include: early childhood education, youth recreation, tutoring and mentoring, youth and adult technology, men’s services, workforce development, health and dental care, and permanent supportive housing. All of the services provided have been initiated as a response to the needs of the community.

A number of BCHS faculty and students have worked on various community-based projects with Hosanna House. In the spring of 2006 BCHS and Hosanna House are initiating new, formal University-community collaboration. As a kickoff the Community Development in Public Health course is being held at the Hosanna House facility in Wilkinsburg.

Pittsburgh Early Head Start

BCHS faculty, staff, and students have been working for several years with the Pittsburgh Family Foundations Early Head Start Program as part of the national, multi-site EHS Evaluation and Research Project. The federally funded EHS program was initiated in 1995 and is designed to promote healthy development of low-income children under 3 years of age. In addition to benefiting infants and toddlers, the program provides a variety of family support services to strengthen and preserve families. Pittsburgh Family Foundations operates four centers where family advocates make home visits regularly to address child development issues. Family development specialists also work with families to link them to community services. In addition, group activities are provided for parents and families at each center. The program also works with child care providers to help ensure quality care for children.

Allegheny County Health Department

The Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences has had a long-standing relationship with the Allegheny County Health Department. A number of ACHD public health professionals are adjunct faculty in the department and often make presentations in various BCHS classes. In addition ACHD has provided internship and practicum experiences for many BCHS students, and BCHS faculty have collaborated with ACHD on numerous community-based projects. Click here to see a flyer of a collaborative survey between ACHS and BCHS with a link to the report.

Tobacco Free Allegheny (TFA)

Tobacco Free Allegheny (TFA) was established by the Allegheny County Health Department in June 2002, to administer and manage the comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation program in Allegheny County. TFA is a nonprofit organization supported by the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) and governed by a board of directors. The mission of Tobacco Free Allegheny is to reduce the rate of tobacco use among adults and youth. TFA's comprehensive approach toward achievement of that mission is to support cessation, prevention, and education activities throughout the county. The Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences has been directly involved with conducting the system-wide evaluation of the success and the impact of the various TFA initiatives.

University of Pittsburgh UCLID Center Developmental Disabilities Training

University, Community, Leaders, and Individuals with Disabilities: The UCLID Center at the University of Pittsburgh brings together University faculty and students, community service providers and health professionals, leaders in government, business, and philanthropy, and individuals with disabilities and their families, all united with the goal of nurturing a new generation of leaders in the field of disabilities. These leaders are needed to respond to regional and national needs for innovative, family-centered, community-based, scientifically motivated and clinically effective services for individuals with disabilities and their families. The Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences was part of the team that developed the original UCLID project. Students who have an interest in services to children and youth with development and/or physical disabilities have an opportunity to pursue specialized interdisciplinary training in this area.

Center for Healthy Aging

The Center for Healthy Aging was funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in October 2001. The core theme for the center is health promotion and disease prevention in the older adult population.

The center chose an innovative research theme for the project that targets the region's ever growing, healthy, but at-risk population of older citizens. The project is highly collaborative within both the public health community and the community at large, complementing and not subverting the already established flow of patient care. Overall goals include:

  • Promote the concept of "healthy aging" as a theme and as a public health goal for the community, focusing on the 10 keys to healthy aging that research has shown to be highly effective in enhancing the health of older adults; effectively translate and disseminate research results, and disseminate quality prevention education materials to the community
  • Provide multidisciplinary training and evaluation on prevention
  • Establish collaborative and meaningful program activities within the community of patients, providers, researchers, educators, and policymakers

BCHS faculty and students have participated in numerous project development implementations and program evaluation efforts as part of our broader focus on services to the elderly.

Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC)

Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) was founded in 2004 under a grant from the Heinz Endowments at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health. The CHEC is based in BCHS and the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. The mission is to improve environmental health in Western Pennsylvania, using a community-based approach to social as well as physical aspects of local environmental health. The aim is to offer access to local environmental health data, opportunities for collaboration and conferencing, and outreach that helps people improve their lives and neighborhoods. Graduate students in BCHS have worked on several community and school-based projects with CHEC.

Center for Public Health Practice

The Center for Public Health Practice provides the link between the Graduate School of Public Health and the professional public health workforce in order to strengthen both arenas. In 1995, the Center for Public Health Practice (CPHP) was founded with an appropriation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to enhance the linkages between the academic arena and practice arena of public health. The mission of the center is to recruit, develop, and support faculty members to conduct applied research on topics of high priority for the practice of public health; establish the school's MPH program as a national model for professional education, using both traditional and distance-based models; and pursue excellence in faculty service by facilitating service opportunities, and by developing and implementing rigorous academic standards for service activities.

Center for Public Health Preparedness

Many BCHS students choose to pursue the Certificate in Public Health Preparedness offered by the Center for Public Health Preparedness as part of their academic program in BCHS. The center director is a faculty member in BCHS, and students have an opportunity to work on projects related to public health preparedness and bioterrorism prevention with the Allegheny County Health Department and other governmental organizations.

BCHS Practica Stories


Alysse Littleberry, Reducing Recidivism at Bethlehem Haven's Emergency Shelter 

Alysse Littleberry, Reducing Recidivism at Bethlehem Haven's Emergency Shelter

"After hearing about the journeys of women and spending time at the shelter, homelessness to me seems like the intersection of all social problems: poverty, mental illness, underinsurance, domestic violence, substance abuse... I feel very motivated to help these women, but I also feel like my work ... (08/12/2019)

Abisola Olaniyan spends practicum addressing barriers to seeking and accessing immunization services for children in Lagos, Nigeria  

Abisola Olaniyan spends practicum addressing barriers to seeking and accessing immunization services for children in Lagos, Nigeria

Center for Global Health Student Travel Scholarship recipient and DrPH student, ABISOLA OLANIYAN (BCHS '21), spent her practicum in Lagos, Nigeria addressing barriers to seeking and accessing immunization services for children. She also conducted food demonstration classes to educate mothers/caregi... (10/22/2018)

Air Quality Program MPH students present their work at ACHD 

Air Quality Program MPH students present their work at ACHD

Masters students FIONA GAO (BCHS) and JINGHUI JU (EPI) spent the summer researching morning surface temperature inversions and their impact on public health with Allegheny County Health Department’s (ACHD) Air Quality Program. They presented their work at the ACHD in August.       (10/02/2018)

Bridging the Gaps Pittsburgh celebrates 20 years of promoting health in underserved communities (video) 

Bridging the Gaps Pittsburgh celebrates 20 years of promoting health in underserved communities (video)

Celebrating 20 years of service, BRIDGING THE GAPS PITTSBURGH has focused on promoting health in underserved communities while training future health and social service professionals. More than 350 community health interns have collaborated with 58 community partners to provide over 10,255 days of s... (08/11/2017)
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