**Forthcoming in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP). All rights reserved.**
Background: Chicago’s systemically underserved communities have disproportionately high cancer rates. The Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC) brings together academic and community partners to address these health inequities. The community conversations known as “CHEC-Ins” provide a space for community members to voice their experiences and needs and for ChicagoCHEC to fulfill its commitment to advancing health equity through collaboration and action.
Objective: This paper presents a community-generated approach to social networking about cancer health issues known as CHEC-Ins. Through this innovative approach, community members and organizations share cancer related information and experiences, as well as needs and concerns, which are then channeled to ChicagoCHEC academic and administrative members who incorporate them into outreach and research activities. In this way, community members set the agenda and the process and collect the information they deem relevant and important. This paper describes the process of organizing and conducting two pilot CHEC-Ins and the model of this approach, which we intend to employ moving forward to advance partnership building and collaborative research practice between academic institutions and community partners and organizations. This paper contributes a unique model of community-generated and led outreach as a cornerstone of the ChicagoCHEC approach to community engagement.
Methods: The leaders of the ChicagoCHEC Community Steering Committee (CSC), spearheaded the design and implementation of CHEC-Ins, including developing the question guide and hosting events within their organizations.
Lessons Learned: CHEC-Ins proved to be a valuable strategy for defining the role of community partners and establishing the basis for a bi-directional flow of information, resources, and productive action. The two pilot CHEC-Ins revealed important insights related to sources of cancer information, meanings and associated attitudes, barriers to access and use of health services, and social support systems in the communities where ChicagoCHEC works. We will implement this approach and continue to refine it as we conduct CHEC-Ins moving forward.