Supporting Peer Navigation in New York City

Metis recently led an implementation evaluation of the Community Navigator Program in East Harlem, a program implemented by the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, funded through the Manhattan District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJII), and managed by the CUNY Institute for State & Local Governance (ISLG).

Designed to connect East Harlem residents to needed social services within and outside the neighborhood, the Community Navigator Program leverages the power of trained peers. Within this program, peers provide referrals and a set of complementary services to program participants including, but not limited to, robust coaching and virtual and in-person accompaniment. Since 2017, the program has served over 1,800 clients and is continuing to expand and evolve.

At Metis, we are thrilled to be supporting this significant work through our evaluation efforts, which included a descriptive study of the program’s best practices in areas such as:

  • the use of multi-faceted, trust-based outreach and recruitment strategies,
  • the use of shared lived experience to strengthen participant-navigator relationships,
  • the blending of referrals and coaching to build participant’s competence in self-advocacy, and
  • the career empowerment of peer navigators through training and intentional hiring practices.

In addition, we completed a full analysis of outcomes for participants, navigators, and the service sector, through which we also purposefully elevated participants’ voices through a series of virtual interviews. Finally, our evaluation is also accompanied by an extensive literature review that draws together and identifies several convergent strands of research on peer-led navigation.

You can read our report here for more information about the Community Navigator Program in East Harlem. Commentary provided by ISLG on the importance of this work in furthering service navigation in New York City and the value that this evaluation brings to the broader conversation taking place can be found here.

To discuss our portfolio of related evaluation projects and how we can best serve your needs, email Artis Bergman, Senior Research Associate. We look forward to speaking with you.