Community Health Assessments

The Rapides Foundation is dedicated to improving the health status of Central Louisiana through a focused program of grantmaking.

To assure our grant decisions are based on current, valid and locally specific data, the Foundation has contracted with experts to perform Community Assessments in our nine-parish service area.

Our most recent assessment was conducted in 2021 and builds upon work begun more than a decade earlier.

The Foundation in 1997 contracted with the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine to perform our first Community Health Assessment. Tulane researchers gathered data through the use of written and telephone surveys, interviews and focus groups, as well as through the use of local, state and federal databases. They also compiled an inventory of community resources in partnership with health and human service organizations in Central Louisiana.

At the end of the survey period, the research team met with The Rapides Foundation administration to review their findings and identify the most pressing and important issues that affect the health and well-being of Central Louisiana.

In 2001, The Foundation contracted with Professional Research Consultants Inc. of Omaha, Neb., to conduct a second community health assessment to build on the work begun in 1997. It provided yet more insight into the health of our communities. Then in 2005, 2010, 2013 and 2018, the Foundation once again conducted assessments of its nine-parish service area, updating the health assessment and broadening its data-collection efforts. 

PRC was again used to conduct our most recent assessment. The survey instrument used for the 2021 study was based largely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and customized questions addressing gaps in indicator data relative to health promotion and disease prevention objectives and other recognized health issues. The final survey instrument was developed by The Rapides Foundation and PRC, and is similar to the previous surveys used in the region, allowing for data trending and benchmarking against the rest of the state and nation, ultimately providing more insight into the health of our communities. It is also important to note that some data was collected prior to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that began in March 2020. This is critical to keep in mind when referencing comparisons to the current indicators which may have been impacted by pandemic-related factors not represented in the benchmark data. 

Viewing Assessments

To view the assessments for The Rapides Foundation's nine-parish service area or for your individual parish please click one of the sections below, then choose which assessment to view. If you have questions about the assessments, or to obtain a copy of the assessments on CD, please contact Director of Evaluation Akeshia Singleton or Director of Communications Kathy Gunn at 318-443-3394 or 1-800-994-3394.

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS)

Louisiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in Central Louisiana High Schools

Since 2007, the Foundation has funded the administration of a biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) among Central Louisiana’s public high school students in grades 9-12. Starting in 2013, the Foundation commenced publishing results for community use within the service area. The Louisiana YRBS is based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System’s national school-based survey, which is administered on odd years via a partnership with state and local agencies in health and education. The areas of study within the Louisiana YRBS questionnaire include: nutrition, weight, physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, and violence/injuries. The results allow for data trending and comparisons of health risk behaviors among youth in the Foundation's service area with the results for Louisiana and the nation. If you have questions about the report, please contact Director of Evaluation Akeshia Singleton at 318-443-3394 or 1-800-994-3394.

Youth Disconnection in TRFSA

Assessment of Youth Disconnection in The Rapides Foundation Service Area

In 2019, the Foundation partnered with Measure of America (MOA), a program of the Social Science Research Council based in New York, to assess youth disconnection within the service area through environmental scan, estimation of local youth disconnection rates for the region using the latest available data, and identification of the drivers and levers for positive change. This “Disconnected Youth” or “Opportunity Youth” measure looks at young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who were neither working nor in school as an indicator of the lack of opportunities to gain skills and relationships towards a successful, productive life.

MOA researched key demographic data with a focus on two statistical geographic areas in the region, referred to as Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) from the Census - American Community Survey. The two available PUMAs within the analysis included: PUMA 1 (Rural) – made up of Winn, Grant, LaSalle, Catahoula, Concordia and Avoyelles parishes; and, PUMA 2 (Urban) – made up of Rapides and Vernon parishes. As a result, seven of the nine parishes within the Foundation’s service area were included in the analysis; the two parishes not included in the analysis were Natchitoches and Allen parishes. 

The 2023 assessment provides an update to MOA’s initial analysis, including a demographic profile of the disconnected youth population and a trend analysis of the youth disconnection rate for the region. To better understand what impacts youth disconnection, the study also looks at key characteristics of different groups of disconnected youth. 

Research has demonstrated that disconnected youth are less likely to be employed, own a home, or report being in good health by their 30s.