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Kansas Beats the Virus: Engaging Local Communities to Drive Local Change

In 2021, the ongoing effects of COVID-19, combined with prevalent mistrust and misinformation regarding vaccine effectiveness and side effects, resulted in a devastating rippling effect in communities across Kansas.

That’s why, after successfully engaging communities across Kansas to help slow the spread of the virus the previous year, the KLC applied what it learned from Kansas Beats the Virus 2020 and designed KBTV 2021—a more robust mass action civic engagement effort focused on community-based action projects. The 2021 effort was a public health partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

During this second phase of the initiative, the KLC called on partners, alumni and new and existing friends to launch 1,000 new action projects across the state in 2021.

The Initiative: Kansas Beats the Virus 2021 was created to help alleviate the effects of the pandemic by engaging local communities to exercise leadership.

The Initiative’s Goal: Help communities create local strategies to increase testing and vaccination rates.


Study Purpose: Investigate whether the KBTV 2021 strategy achieved its desired outcomes.

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Would KBTV 2021 strategies achieve the desired public health and civic engagement short-term and intermediate outcomes?


Public Health Useful Findings:

1. Most of the action projects were created by and directed toward racial and ethnic minority populations in Kansas.

2. Participants felt empowered to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their community.

3. An estimated 1.35 million Kansans saw healthy behaviors modeled from local people they knew and trusted.

4. Participants were more aware of how to effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Civic Engagement Useful Findings:

1. Participation in KBTV 2021 = increased civic trust, common purpose and positivity around civic agency.

2. Participants gained skills and confidence to promote local civic engagement.

3. More KBTV stakeholders felt positive about their community’s capacity to engage civically.

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