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PEER Fellows' Reflections
The Partners in Education, Evaluation, and Research (PEER) Training Program helps nonprofit and community organizations increase their research capacity and facilitate community-engaged research to improve community health through training community research fellows. The 14-month program consists of didactic research training coupled with partnership development with university faculty through applied and experiential learning. The training culminates in a jointly developed community/academic research project.

In September, PEER began training its third cohort of Fellows, who come from a variety of organizations and backgrounds. Jeri Jewett, PEER Program Coordinator, asked the Fellows to give one word to describe their PEER experience thus far along with a brief explanation of that answer. We think you’ll find their responses as insightful as we did.

Inspirational
So far, the PEER Training Program has given me a lot of wonderful information about research and evaluation. It has inspired me to take a look at the wellness program that I manage for the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland, the Stay Well Project, from a new lens; to rethink the best manner of inputting, organization, analyzing, and extracting data, and for which purposes. I am confident that this experience will guide me in taking the program to a whole new level, and to open new doors for our organization as a whole.
Sara Continenza, MPA
Stay Well Project Manager
Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland

Innovative
I think the PEER program has provided me and my organization with a unique experience we would be unable to find elsewhere. The curriculum and leaders encourage collaboration between community organizations and academia, which is a partnership that is often thought of as non-traditional. We are excited about the opportunity to grow our capacity and engage in new relationships with others in our field.
MacKenzie Phillips, MPH
Project Coordinator, Cleveland Regional Perinatal Network
University Hospitals Case Medical Center

Collaborative
I think one of the things that makes the PEER program so beneficial and worthwhile is the partnerships it fosters within our communities. Our organizations and academia alike both stand to benefit from these collaborations, not to mention the doors PEER can open in terms of partnerships down the road between all of us. I am excited about what my organization stands to gain through these collaborations in the immediate and even not-so-immediate future.
Andrew Morris
School-Based Health Coordinator
Neighborhood Family Practice

Empowering
I feel so empowered by the PEER program already and know that the feeling will evolve and expand over time. The resources of the University, small group time with the passionate instructors, networking with my PEER fellows, and the 1 on 1 relationship with my briliant faculty advisor are all empowering me to do some things I have wanted to do for a long time, but only dreamed about...
Steve Killpack
Community Endeavors Foundation
Healthy Fathering Collaborative

Change
I think that the PEER program gives organizations an opportunity to do things, and think differently. It gives us tools to build internal capacity to tell our stories in different ways. We are expert in the work we do—PEER gives us an opportunity to share the knowledge with “hard” data to make our narratives credible.
Kirsti Mouncey, LISW-S, LCDCIII
Chief Program Officer
Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

Experiential
The PEER program integrates direct experience with a more traditional academic setting. Given the unique opportunity to learn while doing a research project with a faculty partner that relates directly to our work at the Cuyahoga County Planning Commmision, the learning becomes significantly more powerful. Through the PEER Fellowship I look forward to strengthening community partnerships, enhancing my research skills, and translating research into best practices.
Alison Ball
Planner
Cuyahoga County Planning Commission

Sustainability
What a terrific program! I already feel like the instructors, PEER faculty, my mentor, and my cohorts-3 fellows have afforded me a unique opportunity and partnership that will transform my lens of practice. Providing quality programs for cancer survivors and their families free of charge is the mission of our organization. I believe one essential component of our organization's sustainability is to deepen our understanding of relevant research, funding opportunities and the importance of strong partnerships (i.e. between academia, the medical setting and other nonprofit organizations).
Beth Bennett
Exercise and Nutrition Program Staff
The Gathering Place
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