The best research happens when community expertise and academic expertise come together.

Create partnerships. Achieve equity.

REACH helps create partnerships between community and academia built on shared values, accountability, and complementary skillsets…

…because to achieve equity and health, both community and academic partners must be at the table.

The resources, services, and opportunities provided by REACH prepare community organizations and academics to be equal partners in research. By establishing open communication, addressing power dynamics, and emphasizing resource sharing, REACH facilitates partnerships that are equitable, sustainable, and with greater potential for positive impact.

Our Story

After founding the Penn Community Scholars Program in 2015, a program that prepares community organizations to be equal partners in research, we noticed there was a missing piece to the puzzle. The graduates of the program were ready to co-lead research, and academics were eager to partner with community, but finding the right partner was difficult for both sides. And we heard many stories about partnerships that did not work out. That’s why we created REACH.

REACH was funded by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Penn in 2021 to create an infrastructure to make partnerships easy, efficient, effective, and equitable. Academics and funders increasingly recognize that research conducted with community partners is more responsive to local needs and produces programs, interventions, and strategies that are more likely to work in policy and practice. And community organizations recognize the value of using data to guide program planning and demonstrate their impact. That’s why the best research happens when community expertise and academic expertise come together

REACH launched in 2023, co-designed in partnership with community and academic partners. We conducted interviews and focus groups with both sides to understand the benefits, challenges, and barriers to partnering. We asked what would be helpful and then used that information to create REACH. This website has been iteratively designed and refined with feedback from community and academic partners to make REACH welcoming, useful, and impactful.

Our Mission

Create partnerships that have a greater positive impact on the communities they serve, and achieve equity in health outcomes and community-academic relations.

Successful academic-community partnerships are built on shared values, accountability, & complementary skillsets. Our resources, trainings, & coaching address things like power dynamics, open communication, and benefit to the community, so we all win.

Here’s how we’ll accomplish it…

Bring together academic and community partners

Provide trainings, resources, & co-learning opportunities

to lay the groundwork for more equitable partnerships

Serve as a trusted link between researchers and community organizations

by modeling integrity and providing valuable and applicable information like codes of conduct

How REACH can help achieve your goals

Increase your chances to get funded and make a real impact on local communities by creating strong partnerships built on shared values, accountability, & complementary skillsets.

REACH will help achieve that.

REACH offers resources and support to community and academic partners. Learn how to use REACH so you can make the most of the opportunity.

Build bridges.

Break barriers.

It can be hard to find the right partner. At a time when we need collaboration, both communities and academics struggle to access one another to develop solutions that promote health and equity. We’re here to fix that.

Training - scholars at community scholars symposium 2019
REACH stands for Research and Equity in Academic-Community Partnerships for Health