Participatory Action Research in Brooklyn, NY

Each summer, for the past three years, CCB has been the leading sponsor—providing both human and financial resources—for Participatory Action Research (PAR) projects in Brooklyn neighborhoods where health disparities are most evident. Based on the premise that those most affected by issues have the most insight into how best to find solutions that benefit the community as a whole, the PAR projects lift up the lived experiences and intelligence of community members.

Each of the three projects completed to date have produced community-generated recommendations for improving health and wellness and united community stakeholders, labor unions, community-based organizations, elected officials, and others on a range of issues. Findings from the PAR projects have also shed light on a need for Brooklyn’s stakeholders to work together to leverage the infrastructure and relationships built through DSRIP. Greater unity and a more comprehensive vision among stakeholders will allow us to tackle long-running, interrelated issues and to drive change in more proactive and collaborative ways.

We believe that PAR is an important part of the continuum of investments being made in New York’s health system. By building the leadership, knowledge and civic infrastructure that are crucial to their success, efforts like PAR can reshape the health care system to address not just physical health more effectively, but the economic, social, and cultural factors that so strongly influence the wellbeing of Brooklyn residents of all ages.


Brownsville and East New York (2016)

Focus of Recommendations: Food justice; Nutrition; Physical Activity

Report: Healthy Brooklyn: Community Centered Study | Proposed Health and Wellness Interventions in Brownsville and East New York

Sponsors and Research Team Coordinators: CCB; Dubois-Bunche Center for Public Policy at Medgar Evers College; NextShift Collaborative, LLC


  • The East Brooklyn Call to Action: The East Brooklyn Call to Action is an ongoing collaboration between residents, community organizations, elected officials, and labor groups to build upon the Brownsville and East New York PAR findings in four areas where attention and resources are most needed: Food & Fitness, Health & Housing, Premature Mortality, and Workforce Strategy. Based on community feedback, the East Brooklyn Call to Action will determine which action area to address first.
  • Brownsville Collaborative Middle School Hydroponic Farm: Based on PAR findings around access to nutritious foods, CCB teamed up with Teens for Food Justice to build a hydroponic farm at Brownsville Collaborative Middle School. Students now spend some of their science class periods learning about the farming process, planting and harvesting crops, and learning how to cook the food they have grown. The farm is expected to produce 15,000 pounds of fresh, nutritious produce every year for their school and the larger Brownsville community through a food box program, which allows community members to buy a week's worth of produce for $14. More from NPR here!  

Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, and East Flatbush (2017)

Focus of Recommendations: Housing affordability through equitable development strategies; Individual income and community wealth; Local organizing capacity; Hospitals as economic and community anchors; Health care workers in community leadership roles

Report: People-Focused Research: Creating Health in Brooklyn | Participatory Action Research in Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, and East FlatbushClick here for abridged edition

Sponsors and Research Team Coordinators: CCB; New York Community Trust; Interfaith Medical Center; Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center; Dubois-Bunche Center for Public Policy at Medgar Evers College; NextShift Collaborative, LLC

Canarsie, Flatbush, and Flatlands (2018)

Focus of Recommendations: Increasing awareness, communication, and programming around health and mental health; Enhancing existing systems, institutions, and organizations; Building relationships among community stakeholders

Report: People-Focused Research: Participatory Action Research in Canarsie, Flatlands, and FlatbushClick here for two-pager

Sponsors and Research Team Coordinators: CCB; Kingsborough Community College; Dubois-Bunche Center for Public Policy at Medgar Evers College; MIT CoLab