Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 287–308 | Cite as

Connecting Data to Action: How the Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project Contributes to Better Outcomes for Youth

  • Deanna ZacharyEmail author
  • Susan Brutschy
  • Sue West
  • Tracy Keenan
  • Abigail Stevens


Community indicator projects have the potential to deliver new knowledge about the quality of life in local communities and drive actions to improve them (Phillips 2003; Holden Social Indicators Research 92:429–448, 2009; Memon and Johnstone 2008). However, the connection between the information produced by community indicator projects and the actions taken to improve conditions in communities remains under-researched (Holden Social Indicators Research 92:429–448, 2009; Hezri and Dovers Ecological Economics 60:86–99, 2006). This is because community indicator projects have mainly been conceptualized as producing information for action rather than as part of an action process (Memon and Johnstone 2008). This paper provides a case study of a community indicator project with an explicit plan to move beyond the data and into action. A review of one of the oldest community indicator projects in the United States, the Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project (CAP) demonstrates how an action oriented community improvement cycle has contributed to measurable improvements for children and youth in one California County. The paper identifies key elements that were important for turning CAP data into local actions and concludes with lessons for community indicator practitioners and questions for future research.


Community indicators Quality of life Assessment Action Children and youth 



The authors wish to thank the reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestion for improving this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V./The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deanna Zachary
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susan Brutschy
    • 1
  • Sue West
    • 2
  • Tracy Keenan
    • 1
  • Abigail Stevens
    • 1
  1. 1.Applied Survey ResearchWatsonvilleUSA
  2. 2.The McCaughey Centre, Melbourne School of Population HealthUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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