The aim of the Coastal Communities programme was to improve health and well-being for specific local communities. A key part of the work of each Community of Practice (CoP) was to identify key outcomes and evaluate how effectively they have been achieved.

REAP is a self-assessment and measuring tool designed to capture essential inputs, outputs and outcomes for both University and Community partners. It has been developed by Jenny Pearce and her colleagues at the University of Bradford.The REAP tool is the best approach we have come across for capturing and evaluating the multi-disciplinary/cross-boundary partnerships in the CoPs. It was used as a framework to provide evidence for the value added to the university and the value added to the community by the Coastal Communities projects.

REAP is based on four key principles:
Reciprocity – generating mutual benefits to the university and communities
Externalities – the benefits to communities and individuals (outcomes)
Access – encouraging communities to access the university and its resources, and
Partnership – building sustainable collaborations to improve the quality life of communities and citizens

We worked with the authors of the original REAP study, and are communicating our ideas and approaches to others in the field, both nationally and internationally. This gives us an opportunity to be part of a much wider network of community-university engagement evaluators.

The Sussex final evaluation report can be downloaded from this page.

Additional resources

Hart, A., Northmore, S. (2011) Auditing and evaluating university community engagement: lessons from a UK case study, Higher Education Quarterly 65 (1) 34–58.

Hart, A., Northmore, S. and Gerhardt, C. (2009) Auditing, benchmarking and evaluating university public engagement. Briefing paper commissioned by The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement. National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement: Bristol.

Pearce, J. Pearson, M. & Cameron, S. (2007) The Ivory Tower and Beyond: the University of Bradford at the Heart of its Communities, Bradford: University of Bradford.