The Colorado Project: Exploring Community-Based Participatory Research in Social Movements


Kara Napolitano, MS, MA & Annie Miller, PhD | September 20 | 2:45-3:45 PM

Topic: Programming, Research | Knowledge Level: Intermediate | Location: TBD

In 2010, Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking (LCHT), began a Community-

Based Participatory Research (CBPR) process to comprehensively end human trafficking in the state of Colorado. In 2018, LCHT replicated the original methodology by conducting a longitudinal follow-up of the first iteration of The Colorado Project. The research described here is intended to determine ways to measure a social movement’s effort to effect positive social change seeking to end human exploitation. CBPR allows space for locally-lead and informed research endeavors--what the community needs as opposed to academics who may not understand community interests and strengths. This presentation explores how a nonprofit organization deeply embedded in the anti-human trafficking movement can produce original research. Team members employed both purposive and convenience sampling strategies to identify as many agencies and organizations across Colorado involved in anti-human trafficking efforts as possible. They then conducted 29 focus groups, 69 interviews, and received 183 completed surveys to inform the work. The findings identified seven emerging promising practices: 1) Supporting the movement in developing evaluation; 2) Acknowledging root causes; 3) Providing trauma-informed behavioral health resources; 4) Recognizing health professionals as crucial players in protection; 5) Having survivors inform the community response; 6) Problem-solving courts; and 7) Increased intentional and equitable inclusion in partnerships. This presentation will discuss the resulting Action Plan, developed by a diverse group of survivors, practitioners, law enforcement, and advocates as well as key takeaways on how Colorado has moved the needle on anti-trafficking efforts. LCHT plans to replicate this model in other states.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Explain how CBPR can be used to measure social change

·  Discuss the importance of a community-based and survivor-informed response

·  Provide key takeaways on how Colorado has moved the needle in its anti-trafficking movement

About the Presenters