Unit 3 Section 3.3: Creating a Mission Statement and By-Laws

Organizational structure of the partnership

Throughout the process of establishing a CBPR partnership, it is equally important to devote time and resources to developing an effective organizational structure that will provide support to the partnership.

Given that each partner organization has its own missions, goals and objectives, community-institutional partnerships for prevention research need to engage in a process of creating a common vision and selecting and prioritizing mutually defined issues, goals and objectives that reflect the multiple agendas that partners bring to the table.

Shared vision is vital in order for partnerships to succeed because it provides focus and energy. Without a vision, separate self-interests can override partnership interests. With a common vision, partnerships apply collective power and subordinate separate self-interests to the larger purpose. Without a shared vision, there is no partnership; rather, it is merely a coalition or information-sharing group.

By developing a mission statement or set of by-laws together, every organizational partner will feel that they had a role in developing and articulating this shared vision. In addition to the overall mission and vision of the partnership, the mission statement or by-laws should acknowledge the values which the partnership seeks to uphold, including:

  • Equal participation by all partners in all aspects of the partnership’s activities

  • Recognition that all partners have expertise that they bring to the partnership

  • Recognition that community-based research is a collaborative process that is mutually beneficial to all partners involved

  • Recognition that health is more than the absence of disease - and that to ensure good health, individual, political, economic, and environmental risk factors in the community have to be addressed

A mission statement states the purpose of the partnership, while by-laws are the official rules and regulations which govern a partnership. In the context of CBPR partnerships, whether a partnership decides to articulate their shared vision and values through its mission statement or by-laws has little consequence; this decision is more of a question of style.

Exercise 3.3.1: Creating a “Shared Vision” for the Partnership

This exercise can take place in one large group or several small groups.

Participants take 15 minutes to generate a list of key words and phrases that characterize a common vision for their partnership(s), based on the issue(s) they are addressing or hope to address. Small groups report out what they have listed and the large group identifies common themes.


Example 3.3.3: CBPR Partnership Operating Procedures and By-laws

Harlem Community & Academic Partnership Operating Procedures and By-Laws
(August 2004)

This document outlines the guidelines and operating procedures of the Harlem Community & Academic Partnership to conduct regular business, designing and implementing projects, and disseminating information related HCAP activities.

1.  Name: The official name shall be Harlem Community & Academic Partnership.

2.  Location: The Harlem Community & Academic Partnership (HCAP) is housed at the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies (CUES) at the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM). The HCAP primarily concentrates its activity on the Harlem community which is defined as the neighborhoods of East and Central Harlem. The HCAP will also expand its focus to other New York City communities for specified projects.

3.  HCAP Structure: The HCAP is governed by committee comprised of community and academic partners. The committee is led by a chairperson and a vice-chairperson when chairperson is not available.   

4.  HCAP Meetings:

4.1  The HCAP will meet monthly, on the second Tuesday of every month. Minutes are available and distributed monthly.

4.2  Priority in any HCAP discussion will be given to emergent issues that affect the community and/or to HCAP members who have been most involved with a particular topic to be addressed in the presentation.

4.3  The HCAP will make a reasonable effort to reach consensus agreement on all issues. In the absence of consensus, a majority of all votes cast will determine action taken by the HCAP membership.

5.  HCAP Membership and Voting:

5.1  The HCAP will consist of representatives of CUES, local community residents, local community-based organizations, public health agencies, and educational institutions.

5.2  A HCAP member may be represented by either an individual or an organization/institution. For procedural purposes, individual representatives seeking membership must attend two out of three meetings within a 3 month period. Organizations seeking membership must attend three consecutive meetings by having the same organizational representative attend each meeting to establish membership. Once membership has been established, the organization may send a proxy representative thereafter. Any individual who meets these requirements and completes a membership application will be considered a member. HCAP members maintain the right to vote once membership status has been achieved.

5.3  Multiple representatives from one agency, organization, or institution will assign one person to serve as the voting representative for the October-September meeting cycle. The formal voting members of the HCAP will be all persons who meet the criteria in 5.2. Each HCAP member agency, organization, or institution will have one vote. Each individual community resident will have one vote. The HCAP Chairs (s) will vote only if there is a tie.

5.4  Voting HCAP membership will then consist of all representatives classified as HCAP voting members in 5.3. Fifty per cent plus 1 of HCAP members present shall constitute quorum. All voting HCAP members have one vote for the purposes of formal procedural issues.

5.5  To ensure that the HCAP reflects the views of the community and its community-based organizations, at any given time a majority of HCAP members with the right to vote must represent community-based organizations or are community residents. New members will be admitted to maintain this balance.

5.6  Voting HCAP members will be compromised of community-based experts or experts on health issues that are of a burden to the Harlem community and other geographical areas of interest to the HCAP.

6.  HHCAP Voting Member Elections and Term Limits:

6.1  A HCAP Chair(s) will be elected by a majority vote from the current voting HCAP members on a yearly basis at the October HCAP meeting.

6.2  There are no term limits for any of the other HCAP voting or non-voting positions.

7.  HCAP Chair:

7.1  The HCAP Chair(s) is responsible for the orderly conduct of HCAP meetings, designating a CUES staff person to record minutes, setting the HCAP agenda, and ensuring active participation of HCAP members in all aspects of HCAP activity.

8.  HCAP Activities:

8.1  The HCAP shall endeavor to fulfill its mission through research, and intervention in Harlem and other geographical areas of interest.

8.2  HCAP members are encouraged to present project proposals or ideas to the HCAP; the HCAP shall then decide on which projects to take on as HCAP projects.

8.3  An Intervention Work Group (IWG) will be formed to monitor each project undertaken by the HCAP; each project will be overseen by its own IWG, which will report to the HCAP on a regular basis.

8.4  A CUES Project Manager will be assigned to HCAP to work closely with the HCAP Chair and CUES Investigators to act as a liaison between HCAP members and CUES investigators.

8.5  To the extent feasible, there should always be at least one voting HCAP member and one CUES member involved in all HCAP projects. These members should be involved in all stages of the project including conceptualization, design, implementation, analysis and dissemination of results. CUES Investigators will work closely with the HCAP Chair and voting members on project proposals and writing of research grants and publications for select projects.

8.6  Members of the IWG should report back to the HCAP on project progress and results at regular pre-determined intervals during HCAP meetings.

8.7  To the extent feasible, abstracts and manuscripts arising from HCAP or HCAP IWG work that are intended for academic publication should be shared with the HCAP for comment/feedback before submission.

8.8  HCAP members and CUES staff who have worked on particular projects will be co-authors on publications. In the event of limited number of authors limited by a particular publication, priority will be given to persons who have been most involved with a particular project.

8.9  The HCAP will be acknowledged in every article.

9.  HCAP Vice-Chair:

9.1  The HCAP Vice-Chair serves as the secondary representative of the HCAP and to support the HCAP Chair in organizing the quality work efforts and the research and intervention goals of the HCAP.

10. Changes to These Operating Principles:

10.1 Any changes to these by-laws must be submitted to a HCAP vote; a majority of votes cast is needed to change these by-laws.


Example 3.3.4: Terms of Reference for a CBPR Project

Terms of Reference Contract from the Wellesley Institute

1. Purpose of the CBR Project

  • One sentence project description:  This research project is a community-based study committed to identifying/understanding/measuring...

  • One sentence project goal:  The results of this study will be used to enhance quality of life through mobilizing community, building capacities, identifying programmatic gaps, and impacting social policy...

  • Project objectives:  The project will achieve this goal by identifying specific factors that impact on quality of life and will put forth strategies for program enhancement, community-building and policy change

2. Guiding Principles for the CBR Project

  • This project will engage a set of principles that will foster community ownership and empowerment among team members, including power sharing, capacity building through mentoring and learning exchanges, group participation in all appropriate phases of the research project, and community ownership of the project.

  • This project will engage in an open and transparent process where a collective vision of research goals and objectives is shared, and where the roles and expectations of team members are clearly understood;

  • This project will be a collaborative and equitable research partnership where members draw upon individual skill sets to meaningfully and mutually work toward the team’s vision;

  • This project will provide opportunities for capacity building through “learning exchanges” where team members can learn about research skills, community development, and community work;

  • This project will engage in data analysis interpretation processes that honor the lived experiences/knowledge of community members;

  • This project will employ dissemination strategies leading toward education, advocacy, community benefit, and social change;

  • This project will foster a supportive team environment through critical reflection of our work and group process.

3. Decision-Making Process for the Project

Our decision-making process in this project aims to:

  • encourage the participation and empowerment of all team members;

  • be transparent, open and clear;

  • provide opportunities for exchanges of learning that draw on the various skills and areas of knowledge of different team members;

  • recognize the responsibilities of the Co-Principal Investigators as Project leaders;

  • recognize the responsibilities of the Project Coordinator as the Project’s staff person.

Differing Responsibilities:

  • Team decisions will include those related to the project’s overall goals and strategies;

  • Project leaders and staff are responsible for decisions related to the management of the research and administration to the Project.

Process for Team Decisions:

Decision-making at Team meetings will strive first for consensus and then will use simple majority votes

4. Access to/Dissemination of Data

Based upon the project’s guiding principles, the Co-PIs and the Co-Investigators share ownership and have access to the research data. Usage of the data will be in accordance with the project goals and will adhere to all requirements of the Research Ethics Board at [name of organization(s)]. Data will be used for:

  • advancement of knowledge;

  • identification of future research questions;

  • making recommendations for policy and service provision.

The data should not be for individual interests that are not related to the goals of the research.

In accordance with CBR principles, we are proposing a model of dissemination that encourages the active involvement of all research team members while taking into account their varying responsibilities and capacities. Research findings will be disseminated in various ways including community forums, conference presentations, agency workshops, newsletters, and journal articles. The Co-PIs, the Co-Investigators, and the Project Coordinator are all encouraged to engage in dissemination of the research findings, and are encouraged to share information about potential dissemination activities.

The Co-PIs will take the initiative in identifying potential journal articles and discussing them with the team. Articles may be written by individuals or by writing groups formed to develop particular manuscripts. All members of a writing group will share authorship on a manuscript. If the paper discusses concerns or issues relating to a particular ethno-cultural community or communities, team members from these communities will be encouraged to participate in the writing group. Order of authorship and mechanisms for feedback on manuscript drafts will be decided up front by writing group members. Groups may also be formed for the development of conference presentations, community forums, and other dissemination activities.

5. Process Evaluation

We will regularly chart our progress against our timeline submitted. We will also provide time at then end of each meeting (15 minutes) to review our process. Twice a year, we will hold meetings specifically to debrief about our work. At these meetings we will both critically reflect on our process/outcome balance and make recommendations for adjusting our work accordingly.