Toward Equity for All: Findings from Stakeholder Input on the Capital Area Community Agenda Project

Researcher(s):Ying Tang, Christopher T. King, Erin Brown, Katie Ryan, Bryan Hadley and Suzanne Hershey
Date Published:
July 2006
Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, The University of Texas at Austin

Full Report (PDF)
165pp., Executive Summary (PDF) 10pp.

Abstract: United Way Capital Area envisioned the development of a Community Agenda encompassing the ten counties in its Central Texas service area: Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet,Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson. The goal of the Community Agenda Project was to understand and prioritize critical health and human service issues, root causes and priorities for action for the ten counties.


In November 2005, United Way Capital Area requested that the Ray Marshall Center conduct research to assist and inform the development of the Community Agenda. Specifically, the Ray Marshall Center was charged with conducting research in two phases, as follows:

Phase I: Identify, collect and analyze existing regional data on the state of major health and human services issues, indicators and demographic trend; and

Phase II: Gauge the perspectives of major stakeholders across the ten-county area regarding major issues, root causes, solutions and prospects for health and human services.

The Ray Marshall Center's Phase I work produced a report entitled A Profile of the Capital Area Community: A Data Analysis Report for the United Way Capital Area. The Phase I report synthesized existing information on demographic trends and community indicators and compiled major health and human services issues as reported by previous community needs assessment projects, issues studies and planning efforts.

Between February and May 2006, the Ray Marshall Center research team focused on the work of Phase II. The team conducted 37 focus groups and individual conversations in the ten counties with a total of 279 individuals including elected and civic leaders, social service providers, health and human services clients, volunteers and members of the general public. A cross section of the community was represented in the focus groups, including members of the Hispanic, Asian and Black communities, senior citizens, representatives of children, mentally ill, physically disabled and victims of violence. In order to solicit maximum input, researchers also surveyed over 2000 people online and received 302 responses, with 234 from Travis County.

The team developed a focus group protocol to guide the discussions, with the key questions as follows:

* What is your vision for a better community?
* What issues are in the way of achieving that vision?
* What are the most pressing issues?
* What are the root causes for these pressing issues?
* What are the actions would you suggest to address these pressing issues and root causes?

Based on the answers to these questions from the 279 participants, this report presents a summary of stakeholders' views on pressing issues, root causes and recommendations for action. Responses to the online survey are also summarized here. In addition, key findings from recent community needs assessments are included when appropriate and available.

Ray Marshall Center

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