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  • Alivia Smeltzer-Darling

Come C(NA) What Our Near-to-Peer Participants Have Been up to!

Concerned About Workforce Barriers in Buffalo? Have no Fear! Our Near-to-Peers are Here!

What workforce barriers are affecting young adults in Buffalo? Our Near-to-Peer Program participants have been developing a Community Needs Assessment (CNA) to find out!

In collaboration with HOPE Buffalo, Erie Niagara AHEC’s Near-to-Peer Program is helping to train nine young adults from the Buffalo zip codes of 14206, 14211, and 14215 to lead the development and facilitation of a CNA launching later this month. In addition, these young adults will help to develop an intervention based on the CNA results to address the workforce barriers identified.

Throughout training earlier this winter, participants learned about Community-Based Participatory Research and CNAs, as well as CNA methodology and the socioecological model of research. In addition, participants underwent certification in protecting human research participants. With this knowledge, these young adults developed a CNA that addressed their specific workforce entry concerns for young adults in Buffalo. Later this month, they will have the opportunity to begin facilitating CNA sessions and investigating these concerns.

Participants in the CNA will include community members, organizational and business leaders, as well as public officials from the Buffalo area selected by the Near-to-Peer Program participants. The assessment will explore potential barriers to workforce entry such as emotional wellness, diversity, equity, and inclusion concerns, and the value of the modern youth applicant background.

The Near-to-Peer Program participants’ hard work and invaluable input in shaping the CNA is helping to make community members’ voices heard and valued. We look forward to finding out the CNA results!

Interested in participating in the CNA and making your voice heard in our community? Please contact Program Facilitator Alivia Smeltzer-Darling at for more info!

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