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Partnerships Between Researchers and Communities Can Advance Equity and Systemic Change

BOULDER, CO (March 24, 2020) – Community Research Collaboratives are partnerships among community members and researchers, sometimes joined by educational institutions. These partners work together to advance equity and justice by jointly creating new knowledge, policies, and practices that promote change in educational systems and society.

Community Research Collaboratives, a policy memo released today by the National Education Policy Center, describes this approach to research and engagement. The report explains that these Collaboratives are an existing field of work, but the field is currently under-recognized by academic researchers, philanthropists, and educational policymakers and practitioners.

The authors delineate the Collaborative approach with help from interviews with leaders in two funding organizations and two networks supporting research partnerships. Using the resulting criteria, they identified seven existing collaboratives to learn from as subjects of this research. Subsequent interviews with 12 participants across these collaboratives yielded the following four core features of Community Research Collaboratives: 

  1. their commitment to systemic transformation, 
  2. their challenge to current knowledge structures as they prioritize community goals, 
  3. their understanding of research as a developmental process, and 
  4. their attention to effective collaboration. 


The new policy memo fleshes out these ideas and provides detailed snapshots of some of the representative Collaboratives to illustrate how the core features are manifested in practice. The analysis is intended to highlight the unique attributes of Community Research Collaboratives, to boost their visibility in education, and to encourage funding support for this growing field.

Find Community Research Collaboratives, by Adam York, Siomara Valladares, Michelle Renée Valladares, Jon Snyder, and Matthew Garcia, at:

This policy memo was made possible in part by funding from the Education Justice Network, Spencer Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation.

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: