CRSHE Research

Shortening the time it takes for evidence-based practices to reach rural communities.

We use a community-based participatory research approach to study issues of concern to communities.  Our highest priority is to ensure that communities directly benefit from the programs and initiatives that we co-develop.  Each of our projects has a steering committee comprised of stakeholders from the community that meets regularly to provide programmatic and research oversight to specific projects.

Current Projects

Purpose: We are facilitating 29 school districts through our data-driven, community-engaged strategic planning process called AIM-XL.  As a result of AIM-XL, school districts establish comprehensive health and wellness plans that include evidence-based practices aligned with the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model.  For more resources on supporting Whole Child health, please visit

Funded by: The Colorado Health Foundation


Purpose: We are convening a collaborative of substance use prevention and youth development experts from Costilla, Conejos, Alamosa, Rio Grande, and Saguache counties to develop a community-driven and evidence-based substance use prevention strategic action plan for schools and/or out-of-school time programs. Shannon Allen – Assistant Research Professor – and Jimmy Johnson – an Alamosa father who lost his son six years ago to drug addiction and suicide are leading this initiative.

Funded by: Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, Community Engagement Pilot Program, Partnership Development


Purpose: Project ECHO is an international lifelong learning and guided practice initiative shown to increase workforce capacity to implement best-practices. The Center for Rural School Health & Education houses Project ECHO, a set of online professional learning communities for educators. Our goal is to provide high quality training to educators across the state via virtual learning communities.

Through a partnership with Constellation Philanthropy, MCE will pilot the ECHO® model to address a key finding of the Colorado Early Workforce Survey 2017 by helping teachers build the skills to meet the care and learning needs of children with special needs and challenging behaviors in order to increase the opportunities for inclusion for all children across the state.

Key members of the ECHO DU leadership team for this pilot project include Karen Riley, Dean of Morgridge College of Education; Elaine Belansky, director of the Center for Rural School Health & Education; and Phil Strain, director of the Positive Early Learning Experiences Center. Learn more about Project ECHO here.


Purpose: We are seeking partners across Colorado such as professionals in school districts, nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and government agencies who are interested in working together to address rural communities’ biggest health and education priorities.  In 2018-19, we are launching a multi-disciplinary taskforce comprised of professionals from these organizations as well as faculty and students from business, law, social work, psychology, policy, and education who are interested in partnering with the San Luis Valley to tackle a fundamental social determinant of health: poverty.


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