UConn People Empowering People (PEP) Program

Primary Investigator: Anne Farrell & Beth Russell

Co-Investigators: Dr. Cathleen Love, Robin Drago (UConn Cooperative Extension)

Project Manager: Hyanghee Lee & Lindsay Westberg

Graduate Research Associate: Alexander Reid

Undergraduate Research Associate: Afsha Lakdawala

The UConn PEP program is a 10-week personal, family, and leadership development program with a strong community focus. UConn PEP participants work together to make their community a better place for themselves and their children through workshop sessions and community projects. Following completion of the initial 10 sessions, participants work on a community project, which provides an opportunity to assess community needs or participate in community work. As part of this project, participants either assess their community’s needs or participate directly in community work. This program was developed in 2000 and has been administered through the University’s Cooperative Extension department and coordinated by Dr. Cathy Love since the program’s inception.

The Center evaluates the PEP program in coordination with UConn’s Cooperative Extension. Program managers administer a questionnaire to all participants before the start of the PEP program (i.e. pre-test) and after they complete the program (i.e. post-test). The questionnaires assess program outcomes, including the impact of training on the three levels of social functioning (individual, relationship, and community). In other words, participants can improve individual assets, (e.g., each individual’s strengths, life experiences, and capacities when facing a stressful life event), relationship skills (e.g., parent and family relationships), and community engagement from the training. In addition to conducting the evaluation, The Center also consults on the design of the evaluation and evaluation measures, which include pre- and post-training questionnaires and a 6-month follow-up questionnaire. Based on the data across two years, the Report on UConn People Empowering People Programs was published in September, 2015. The results of the evaluation supported the value of the UConn People Empowering People Programs in improving personal life skills, parental and family relationships, and community engagement.

In 2018, a new round of pre- and post-test assessments were collected and analyzed. This current effort has an anticipated December 2018 publication date of the next Report.