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How can communities address childhood trauma?

Evaluating Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) to address childhood trauma

Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) was a 2-year initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the California Endowment that ended in December 2017. The initiative was coordinated by the Health Federation of Philadelphia.

MARC used an adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) framework to foster changes in 14 MARC communities toward becoming more trauma-informed and resilient. ACEs are traumatic events in a child’s life that have been empirically demonstrated to have lifelong effects on health and well-being. The initiative elevated learning about the ways in which capacity-and movement-building can contribute to health and well-being in the United States.

Westat conducted an evaluation of the MARC initiatives, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to understand:

  • Network approaches to promote community resilience and address early adversity, violence, and trauma
  • Characteristics of networks involved in this work and factors that facilitate network growth and success over time
  • Extent to which network efforts lead to changes around ACEs and trauma-related work with respect to policies and practices, funding, identification and dissemination of best practices, knowledge and understanding, and data collection capacity


Findings indicate:

  • The 14 networks served as a laboratory for understanding the role networks play in creating trauma-informed policy and practice and fostering resilience
  • Key activities included awareness building, training, and improving trauma-informed practices, as well as informing policy
  • Social network analysis indicated sites became larger and more multi-sectoral during the demonstration
  • Outcome harvesting indicated that networks contributed directly and indirectly to over 100 outcomes across sites, most commonly involving changes in trauma-informed practice
  • Networks cluster into 5 categories in how they promoted change: trusted source and collaborator; community change partner; high-profile network working through members; change through active outreach, awareness building, member initiatives and training; and change focused on rebuilding

The article, Opportunities for Psychologists to Enact Community Change Through ACEs, Trauma and Resilience Networks, draws on findings from Westat’s evaluation of MARC.

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