Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 2020


Schmader, B., 2020. Healthy Lifestyles Community Readiness Assessment: Co-Creating Initiatives with Communities and Examining Differences in Sectors and Demographic Characteristics across Dimensions. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Brenna Schmader 2020.


Nebraska Extension identified a need to better understand community readiness to engage communities and meet their needs. An interdisciplinary team of Extension Educators and Specialists was developed from the Community Vitality Initiative and the Food, Nutrition, and Health team. Six dimensions were identified as contributing factors for healthful communities and were the basis for the Healthy Lifestyles Community Readiness Assessment (HLCRA): Leadership Energy; Issue Awareness; Participation; Inclusivity; Resources; and Entrepreneurial Activities.

The assessment helps determine: a) programming type needed and b) who Extension can connect with in the community to enhance program success. The assessment was piloted by trained staff through group settings in four neighborhoods across two communities. It involved a written survey portion and open-ended discussions. Participants (n=46) spanned rural and urban settings, various sectors (public and private), age groups (19 to 75 years plus), income levels, and time lived in the community. Participants self-identified across the following sectors: Schools; Community Organizations; Healthcare; Food Supply; Legislation; and Other.

Descriptive statistics were calculated, and significance was examined to identify potential differences in sectoral, dimensional, and demographic responses. Based on these preliminary results, efforts and resources may need to be tailored differently when addressing communities’ level of readiness regarding Issue Awareness and Inclusivity. Efforts can also be directed towards increasing positivity towards Leadership Energy and Participation. Demographic variables may play a role in perceptions of community readiness and should be factored into consideration. Results demonstrate and support the need to understand community culture prior to conducting a program or intervention.