The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rape Prevention and Education Program (RPE) funds every U.S. state and territory to implement primary prevention strategies—stopping sexual violence before it begins. To help increase the capacity of local organizations and the statewide coalition, the North Dakota Department of Health engaged The Improve Group as an evaluation and technical assistance consultant.
To assist coalitions in developing and sustaining action plans to prevent violence against women through North Dakota’s Rape Prevention and Education Program:
- We assess community readiness and capacity for primary prevention. Using the Tri-Ethnic Center of Colorado State’s Community Readiness Assessment protocol and procedures, we help communities determine which prevention strategies it is equipped for and where to prioritize capacity building. To assess readiness, we coordinate interviews of key community informants about prevention that lead to scores and corresponding readiness levels. These include findings based on the six dimensions of readiness, like existing efforts and community climate. To assess prevention system capacity, individual prevention and evaluation capacity, and organization capacity, we have various tools to rate and identify areas for growth.
- We provide general technical assistance and training on both evaluation and primary prevention. This includes providing prevention coordinators with both evaluation and mentorship via regular calls, trainings, meetings, and visits. We also coach local and state partners in designing and implementing action and evaluation plans.
Because effective facilitation is key to the success with prevention and evaluation efforts, The Improve Group regularly uses Technology of Participation (ToP®) methods in our work in North Dakota. Our staff are trained experts in ToP®, and we train state-level and local-level partners working on primary prevention to:
- Increase on-the-ground facilitative skills, which prevention coordinators use to engage community stakeholders in selecting indicators and designing evaluation efforts as well as conducting prevention planning activities.
- Facilitate planning discussions in a way that allows diverse groups to reach consensus and move work forward quickly.
North Dakota communities are able to select primary prevention strategies that fit their level of readiness and facilitate stakeholders toward community ownership. This increases the likelihood that a primary prevention strategy will work locally. Our technical assistance and training empower communities to effectively launch and evaluate prevention efforts.
“The Improve Group has been highly effective working at the state level as well as local level. They have guided many of our local coalitions to better and more productive work in engaging communities to address sexual violence prevention.”
- Diane Reed, former Injury/Prevention Program Director, North Dakota Department of Health