We explored a long-standing community science partnership between the Science Museum of Virginia and Groundwork RVA, a local organization that connects youth with opportunities to enhance greenspaces in Richmond.
In 2022, we worked with the Science Museum of Virginia to explore their community science partnership with Groundwork RVA, a local non-profit organization that works with teens at the intersection of sustainability and equity in Richmond.
Groundwork RVA was a key partner in the Science Museum’s IMLS-funded community science project RVAir, which centered on studying air quality in Richmond neighborhoods. We used a holistic case study approach to understand how the longstanding relationship between these organizations contributed to the project’s community science approach and shaped its overall impact.
To fully understand the partnership between the Science Museum and Groundwork RVA over time, and how the relationship between these organizations shaped the RVAir project, we conducted case study interviews with:
- Science Museum staff who worked closely with Groundwork RVA
- Groundwork RVA staff and collaborators
- Groundwork RVA teens who participated in the Science Museum’s RVAir community science program
Overall, we found that the partnership between the Science Museum of Virginia and Groundwork RVA embodied a reciprocal relationship that has grown over time. Interviews with staff from both organizations indicated the importance of aligned missions, strong communication, and intentional collaboration in creating an effective, long-lasting community science partnership. For the Science Museum, the study helped document the significant impact of community partnerships on internal models of collaboration and strategic goals such as cultivating community relationships and underscoring the importance of green spaces in urban settings.
RVAir, the culmination of the Science Museum’s and Groundwork RVA’s partnership, was ultimately successful in working toward RVAir’s desired outcomes. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, RVAir teen participants were able to collect data, understand climate inequities, apply science to their daily lives, and practice key science and social skills.
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