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Community Benefits from WCU's Research Services

Even before its list of clientele included national corporations, WCU's Center for Social and Economic Policy and Research had made a name for itself. In the 2000 presidential contest, when news organizations across the country were forecasting a Gore loss in Pennsylvania, the Center's pollsters predicted that the Vice President would, in fact, carry the Keystone state. He did – by a 4.17% margin.

Since then, the Center has conducted research for dozens of non-profit organizations, its largest contract to date involving Astra Zeneca Healthcare Foundation's Connections for Cardiovascular Health (CCH). The CCH program provides grants to U.S.-based nonprofit organizations engaged in charitable work at the community level. "The community-based organizations set their own goals and we evaluate each program's progress toward those goals," explains Jeffery Osgood, the Center's director, who is also interim associate provost and dean of graduate studies.

Thus far, Osgood and his team of research associates, analysts and graduate students have evaluated 39 CCH-funded programs within 38 specific organizations that have received 74 grant awards.

The Center has also had a long-running relationship with Greater Harrisburg's Healthy Start program. In 2015, the Center helped the organization successfully submit a $3.75 million federal grant proposal to expand their services for pregnant and postpartum women, their babies, families and the community at large.

One of the first projects undertaken when the Center was established in 1998 was to design "The Blueprint Report" for the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls. The report helped identify key areas of concern or interests in improving the lives of women and children. Now, the Center is again working for the Fund, helping identify a core set of objectives around its strategic plan outcomes.

According to Osgood, Chester County is a leader in managing for results. "We helped the county commissioners conduct a county-wide survey, for example, to identify citizens' perceptions of the quality of services they are receiving" from county departments, he explains. "In that way, the Center aided the county in evaluating the county's service delivery."

Read more about the Center in the WCU magazine.