WSSU's Center for Community Safety Moves Toward More Problem-Solving

Alvin Atkinson

Alvin Atkinson, CCS director

November 8, 2011
   The Center for Community Safety (CCS) of Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has recruited three new academic professionals to support its efforts to better translate research on social justice problems into more meaningful solutions for communities in North Carolina and across the country.
    “We need to provide the types of interventions that get at the root causes of problems if we are to stop the cycle of issues that continue to keep our adolescents from realizing their full potential,” said Alvin Atkinson, director of the CCS.  “Too often, well-intended programs have been implemented without having any reliable proof of what contributions they can make towards the outcomes that are being sought.  As resources are becoming increasingly more difficult to obtain, it is imperative that we begin to rely upon data-drive collaborate research and analysis to ensure that we have the problem-solving actions in place that address the issues we have and the outcomes we desire.

    “We are fortunate to have three new professionals joining us who each have a distinguished track record for measurable transformation and reform in both urban and rural neighborhoods across the nation,” Atkinson added.  “This new multicultural team of established clinical and social scientists will lead our collaborative partnership toward achieving the goals of moving from dialogue to action as outlined in our 2012-2015 strategic plan.”

    The new team members are:  Dr. Richard Moye, Jr., research director and faculty-in-residence whose research areas include equity and excellence in public education, urban change and social policy, patterns of residential segregation and race relations; Dr. Pedro Hernandez, research and data analytics manager whose research interests include culturally adapted interventions, solution-based child welfare practices, family systems and prisoner reentry services for mothers; and Marcellete Orange, training and engagement manager whose research interests include applied community studies, community development and violence prevention.

    Since 2001, the CCS has been integral in identifying and addressing serious neighborhood concerns and has provided more than $2 million in funding to local partners. These funds were used for projects such as after school programming, crime prevention and ex-offender reentry. Even though these efforts have had a positive impact on Forsyth County and other communities being served, there was a concern that there needed to be more emphasis on prevention.

    “Translating research into meaningful solutions in communities has been a major challenge across the country,” Atkinson said.  “While this is a frequent topic in medical sciences, it is equally an issue in the behavioral and social sciences.  To discover and eliminate the underlying causes of social problems, researchers must form relationships that allow open and honest dialogue in addition to managing data sharing and data analysis.  With our new efforts, we are striving to make our vision of actionable and evidenced-based community research a reality.

 “The CCS certainly could not have made this investment in our commitment to bringing in the talent necessary to expand our efforts without the support of the University and particularly Dr. Charles Ford, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences,” Atkinson added.  “We have also benefited from the support of our funding partners, who over these 10 years have demonstrated their confidence in the CCS by their investment in our work,” Atkinson added.  We are now eager to leverage and expand our efforts through their continued support as we work together on programs and practices that seek to cure the myriad of societal ills that affect our communities.”

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