Charles Drew University,
Watts Community Studio,
& Young Ethnographers

In addition to participating in the Data Working Group, Charles Drew University utilizes a cohort of students to conduct a community survey to gain knowledge of qualitative data such as community perceptions and lifestyle changes that may be more difficult to track in other ways.

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

CDU is a community-founded not-for-profit private university founded in 1966 as a community medical center, in response to inadequate medical facilities within the Watts-Willowbrook neighborhoods of South Los Angeles. It is the only health sciences academic institution located in an area of 1.6 million people - the largest underserved urban area in the United States. CDU is a center of exceptional methodological and cultural expertise in community-partnered participatory research principles. CDU critically contributes to the effort of bridging the translational gap from basic science to community engagement through its exceptional network of community partnerships and through its leadership in refining and disseminating community-partnered participatory research principles.

CDU Vision: Excellent health and wellness for all in a world without health disparities.

CDU Mission: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science is a private non-profit student centered University that is committed to cultivating diverse health professional leaders who are dedicated to social justice and health equity for underserved populations through outstanding education, research, clinical service, and community engagement.

CDU Values (CLEDIC): Community, Leadership, Excellence, Diversity, Integrity, and Compassion

Watts Community Studio (WCS)

A community research project supported by Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles City Council District 15 (CD15), the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), and the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity. The project aims to learn more about Watts from the people who live and own businesses there. Involving residents in the decision-making process for their neighborhood will help with programs, projects, and policies for the future of Watts. WCS used the Census data, other public agency data, and conducted meetings to learn more about Watts. WCS worked with many organizations and churches in the community to make sure that the surveys and project were made for the people of Watts. WCS worked with youth from Watts for six weeks to administer the survey, enter the data, and support program development.  In 2013, the three-month project revealed ideas for how to support the future of Watts that included the residents and businesses of Watts. About 700 resident and 50 business owner surveys were collected in Watts: respondents love their neighborhood and have ideas on how to improve it.

The link to the WCS 2013 report is here.

In 2018, WCS became a data partner of the Watts Rising Collaborative. Using a survey tool designed by the Watts residents, stakeholders, Watts Rising Collaborative, and other data partners, the project launched the Watts Community Assessment in the Fall of 2022 with the following purposes:

2022-2023 Watts Community Assessment Purpose

  • Learn about knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of Watts residents
  • Serve as a community evaluation of the Watts Rising Collaborative
  • Explore resident perspectives on COVID-19 

Data results will be presented by YEP in the summer of 2023 at Watts Rising Collaborative monthly meetings and at different Watts community settings. 

WCS Mission: The Watts Community Studio uses community-led research to offer ideas on how to improve the conditions of the neighborhood.

WCS Aims

  • Determine community needs and perspectives by surveying residents
  • Develop collaborative networks 
  • Inform the decision-making processes in Watts 
  • Utilize major community assets over a deficit narrative
    • Youth as survey administrators (Young Ethnographers Program)

Young Ethnographers Program (YEP)

A participatory research youth training program in which participants develop skills in community assessments, resume building, and college readiness, while also participating in weekly outings to learn more about the history, culture, and current dynamics in their neighborhoods. Students survey their Watts residents in order to measure the quality of life in their community and current neighborhood priorities and conditions. The 2022 iteration will focus on environmental justice through a partnership with the Watts Rising Collaborative.

YEP is a unique opportunity for youth to help foster youth civic engagement, encourage post-secondary aspirations, provide workforce preparation, and develop leadership skills. Since 2020, YEP has worked with local youth who are enrolled in the HIRE LA Youth Program, a program supported by the City of Los Angeles that provides youth 14-24 years old with work experience, and College Track Watts, a national 10-year college preparatory program that works with Jordan High School students. 

YEP Mission: To offer a transformative applied educational experience for youth from diverse backgrounds through mentorship, social research, and community engagement that cultivates leadership skills and social justice advocacy.