Literacy, CPR projects awarded CTSI community partnership grants

2024 seed grant awards.

Top row, from left: Katheryne T. Leigh-Osroosh, PhD, Graduate School of Education; Christina U. King, PhD, Graduate School of Education; Alizé Scott-Nowell, YWCA Jamestown; and Indo Quiñones, YWCA Jamestown. Bottom row, from left: Leslie J. Bisson, MD, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; and Tameka Felts, MBA, BSN, Buffalo Black Nurses, Incorporated.

Published February 21, 2024

“We have seen our past recipients develop strong partnerships that have resulted in funding, publications, and sustainable improvements in our communities.”
Laurene M. Tumiel Berhalter.

University-community partnerships focused on youth literacy and on supporting cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in Buffalo churches are the focus of two unique projects awarded University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) funding from the CTSI Community Partnership Development Seed Grant Program.

Creating Inclusive School Climates Through Racial Literacy and Community Empowerment

University Leads: Katheryne T. Leigh-Osroosh, PhD, Assistant Professor, Counseling, School and Educational Psychology, Graduate School of Education; Christina U. King, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Learning and Instruction, Graduate School of Education

Community Leads: Alizé Scott-Nowell, YWCA Jamestown; Indo Quiñones, YWCA Jamestown

The YWCA Jamestown’s Book M.A.R.K. program aims to create inclusive school environments which promote the holistic wellness and social-emotional development of students through culturally relevant literature. Book M.A.R.K. promotes reading and storytelling as a learning tool and offers school-age children opportunities to learn about the diversity in their community and the world.

“With less than half of the students in Jamestown Public Schools being proficient in reading — and even fewer in Chautauqua County overall — the data makes it evident that barriers exist in regard to student literacy in the community,” says YWCA Jamestown’s Alizé Scott-Nowell. “These barriers were only exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.”

For UB’s Katheryne T. Leigh-Osroosh, PhD, collaborating with the Jamestown YWCA on this project has special significance; she grew up in Jamestown and attended the YWCA during her youth.

“It has been my intention to use my knowledge towards the betterment of the Western New York community through community-based participatory projects,” she says. “Coincidentally, the Jamestown YWCA was looking for UB researchers to collaborate with in strengthening its Book M.A.R.K. racial literacy program. Alizé had developed the program which was running for a few years already; Dr. King and I have the honor of helping strengthen program fidelity and expansion.”

Scott-Nowell believes this collaboration with Graduate School of Education researchers has the potential to “preclude negative outcomes of low literacy performance by creating a collaborative initiative that informs, empowers, and equips participants with protective factors through literacy and positive cultural identity development.” In addition, organizers hope to collect data that demonstrates the positive impact that student literacy can have on socio-emotional development, social awareness, and overall classroom culture.

“The seed grant funds will allow the YWCA to grow this project,” explains Leigh-Osroosh. “Reciprocity is essential in community-based participatory research. These funds are an act of reciprocity and recognition of the knowledge of community leaders, like Alizé, and the commitment of researchers to support transformative community-driven projects.”

Growing Collaborations to Deliver Culturally Adapted Hands-only Cardio-pulmonary Resuscitation / Automated External Defibrillator Training Programs in Predominantly African American Churches in Erie and Niagara Counties

University Lead: Leslie J. Bisson, MD, June A. and Eugene R. Mindell, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Orthopaedics, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Community Lead: Tameka Felts, MBA, BSN, Buffalo Black Nurses, Incorporated

In the wake of Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest and recovery, UB sports medicine surgeon and Buffalo Bills medical director Leslie J. Bisson, MD, has been working to address barriers to bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation/automated external defibrillator (CPR/AED) training in underserved communities in Buffalo and at area schools.  

“What we found with the hands-on CPR and AED training is that there is a lot of engagement by the instructors and by the participants,” he says. “It has been very energizing and positive to see how much interest there is in this.”

Bisson, who also serves as president of UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, says that a conversation with a neighbor led him to connect with Buffalo Black Nurses, Incorporated. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of underserved communities in the area, and the collaboration with Bisson and the UBMD team has included successful appearances at events like the Juneteenth of Buffalo festival.

“By providing basic understanding of CPR, we will see an increase in the survival rate of the African American community,” says Tameka Felts, MBA, BSN, the CPR Committee Chair for Buffalo Black Nurses. “Building trust is an immediate need to improve health literacy and awareness.”

The CTSI Community Development Partnership Seed Grant will assist in efforts to bring CPR/AED training to Western New Yorkers at Buffalo churches.

“In the African American community, the Black church is a powerful and influential staple,” Felts explains. “Reaching out to local pastors and leaders is a starting point to get health information to underserved populations. By providing CPR/AED training in the church, we can reach a larger crowd who will participate and may even encourage their families to join in and learn.”

Felts and Bisson agree that the seed grant is another step toward improving the health of the local African American community.

“This helps us in planning the next step of broadening our impact,” Bisson says. “We want to leverage what we have learned so far and explore and develop even more relationships.”

“The goal is to bring together teams that have similar priorities”

CTSI seed grants support the planning of community-based participatory research partnerships and engagement of communities in research. CTSI Community Engagement Core Director Laurene M. Tumiel-Berhalter, PhD, Director of Community Translational Research, Department of Family Medicine, Jacobs School, stresses that each partner — community and academic — must play an essential role in the project.

“Whether these partnerships are initiated by a community member or an academic faculty member, the goal is to bring together teams that have similar priorities,” she says. “We have seen our past recipients develop strong partnerships that have resulted in funding, publications, and sustainable improvements in our communities.”

Visit the CTSI website for a complete list of current and past CTSI Community Partnership Development Seed Grant awardees.