CRSHE Research

We use a community-based participatory research approach to address issues of concern to communities.  We work in partnership with the community to develop beneficial, action-based research.  Each of our projects has a steering committee comprised of stakeholders from the community that meets regularly to provide programmatic and research oversight.

We’ve been using AIM, our strategic planning process, since 2005 to help schools implement the latest evidence-based practices to support healthy, happy children. We facilitate schools and communities in Assessing practices in their community, Identifying which practices they’d like to put in place, and Making it happen through action planning and implementation.

Current Projects

Purpose: Behavioral Health Solutions for Rural Schools (BHSRS), in partnership with the Southeast BOCES, the Santa Fe Trail BOCES, and the Colorado Rural Education Collaborative (CREC), work together to build and sustain a rural school mental health workforce that can simultaneously meet the mental health needs of rural students and alleviate some of the pressures classroom teachers face in trying to meet these students’ emotional needs.

Funded by: Colorado Department of Higher Education


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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