Equitable Access to Health & Wellbeing

Health and wellness inequities are preventable burdens often rooted in social injustices, correlated with race and poverty. Moreover, disparate health and wellness in our communities creates a vicious cycle that increases the probability of generational poverty for those without access. This creates burdens not only to the individual but to whole subpopulations over time. Exposure to environmental toxins, access to healthy food, and experiencing a safe environment are just a few examples of factors disproportionately impacting racial minorities and/or those of lower socio-economic status. In the areas in which CCI operates, over 35% of the families are in poverty or Asset-Limited Income-Constrained, Employed (ALICE)*. 

Acknowledging the structural impacts of these disparities, the Center for Civic Innovation fosters research aimed at addressing health and wellness issues in urban areas, particularly those in legacy industrial landscapes.

*The United Ways of Indiana, (2018) ALICE: A Study of Financial Hardship

Related Projects

  • Bilingual Services

    To bridge the communication gap between non english speaking families and schools, this project included a literature review of interviews with local Elkhart Community Schools teachers, research on best solutions in other communities, research on best technological support, and more. Interns worked closely with the Engineering, Technology, and Innovation Department to promote future implementation of the solutions proposed within the schools.

  • CARE Network

    Identifying and accessing social services is critical in aiding vulnerable individuals and families in their move toward self-sufficiency. The Indiana 211 Partnership works with Indiana United Way, and its local subsidiaries to maintain a database and provide referrals to assist individuals reintegrating from incarceration. CCI is working with community service providers to develop innovative solutions for keeping their information up-to-date.

  • dataMichiana

    Data are developed with community partners and used for planning and action by stakeholders. dataMichiana will be the local platform with National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, managing and providing data in the Michiana region served by CCI to create useful data layers for South Bend with an equity lens with applications to education, housing, workforce development, and/or food access.

  • Elkhart County Food Data

    Much is yet to be understood about Elkhart County's current food assets and strengths. CCI and the Elkhart County Food Council (ECFC) are collaborating to build data and knowledge to improve coordination in food access efforts throughout Elkhart County. These efforts will include recruitment of food pantries in the county for implementation of a survey tool that generates data on food inventory estimates and adding capacity for food asset mapping.

  • Elkhart Trails

    Working to improve wayfinding of the New River Greenway Trail, interns created a detailed proposal of recommended sign locations, signage details, a budget, and an interactive map. The interns pitched this proposal to stakeholders working on the implementation of the trail signage and included additional recommendations, including a low-cost community mural on the Indiana Avenue underpass and mile markers.

  • Food Information Network

    Identifying and accessing healthy food options is critical in aiding vulnerable individuals and families who do not live in close proximity to reasonable sources of food. Further complicating the issue is knowing what food is available and whether it meets one’s nutritional needs. CCI is working to aggregate existing local/global food information into a complex heterogeneous food network while building a recipe recommendation system based on the Food Information Network (FIN).

  • Food Information Network App Design

    To address the issue of limited access to healthy food options amongst vulnerable populations, CCI partnered with Notre Dame faculty, Purdue Extension, and Saint Joseph County Health Department FINs to address food-decision support and access problems using recommendation technologies based on user needs and preferences. The team created an initial prototype of an app that gathers and stores user information and compiled a written report on the sustainability of a hub model for physical access.

  • Mentoring with 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend

    CCI partnered with leaders and mentees from 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend to explore enhancements to their mentoring program. This team designed and scheduled 10 STEM-related events and assisted with a TechPoint Foundation 4 Youth Grant that will fully fund a robotics team for 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend.

  • South Central WiFi

    Access to WiFi in the era of COVID-19 is increasingly necessary for learning and work in low-income communities. CCI and the Elkhart Community Schools are partnering with MapleNet to deliver free or a reduced price rate home wifi service to ECS students. An additional assessment is being conducted to determine the need and potential for further WiFi access to households that do not qualify as low-income.

  • Tolson Neighborhood

    A community engaged project working with local neighborhood residents surrounding the Tolson Center, this research collected asset information from residents bringing awareness to the resources rather than the issues within the neighborhood. Interns worked to highlight and visualize this information within several deliverables, including spanish/english brochures, a community cookout presentation, and an ArcGIS asset map.

  • Traffic Calming

    Vehicle and pedestrian safety is imperative for health and well-being in urban areas. CCI is collaborating with the Near Westside Neighborhood Organization and the City of South Bend to identify traffic calming needs in the area and inform the public about the City’s traffic calming program.

  • Wearable Devices

    Fall detection for medical use has become a well-understood technology with devices now able to detect a hard fall in real-time while allowing it to sound or display an alarm. Much less attention has been devoted to near falls, where a patient may trip, become unstable, and/or experience dizziness. CCI is helping to correlate wearable device sensor data with near falls, which can be a very valuable indicator of whether patient therapy is meeting its desired impact.

Partner Organizations

  • United Way St. Joseph County
  • City of South Bend
  • City of Elkhart
  • St. Joseph County Health Department

Related Faculty

  • Dr. Heidi Beidinger-Burnett

  • Dr. Jay Brockman

  • Dr. Nitesh Chawla

  • Ann-Marie Conrado, MA

  • Dr. Ronald A. Metoyer

  • Dr. Danielle Wood