All community partnerships funded through Active Living by Design (ALbD) conducted some form of community assessment. Resulting data helped develop understanding of the community and determine appropriate interventions, while community involvement in the assessment process itself fostered community engagement and support.
The ALbD initiative funded 25 community partnerships across the U.S. from 2003-2008; these partnerships were charged with using five “community action” strategies to change environments and policies to make it easier for people to lead active daily lives. While ALbD did not specify expectations nor designate grant funds for community assessments, the initiative did share some assessment tools and training with the partnerships. Part of a three-year cross-site evaluation started in Year Three of ALbD funding, this study uses data from focus groups, interviews, and the ALbD Progress Reporting System to examine community assessments conducted by the partnerships.
The most effective community assessments were likely those that identified specific barriers to physical activity, such as broken sidewalks. But the assessment processes themselves built community collaborations that facilitated change and provided a foundation for future data collection to evaluate the impact of ALbD.