Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project

Active Project? Yes
Year Project Began: 1994
Year of Last Input: 2017
Last Updated: Feb 3 2018
Project Location:
Santa Cruz County
State / Province:
Lead Organization:
Applied Survey Research
Type of Organization:
Nonprofit - Research

Geographic Scope


Issue Areas

Children & Youth, Civic Engagement, Demography, Economy, Education, Employment, Environment, Governance, Health & Wellbeing, Housing, Land Use, Poverty, Public Safety, Social, Transportation, Population


CAP, Santa Cruz County, Community Assessment Project, Community Indicators, Data for Change


The Community Assessment Project (CAP) is a multi-year initiative to measure and improve the quality of life in Santa Cruz County. ASR was contracted by the United Way of Santa Cruz County to conduct this longitudinal community assessment. Specific activities have included quality-of-life indicator creation, in-depth telephone surveys (conducted in English and Spanish) of nearly 800 local residents biennially, extensive data compilation and analysis, and facilitation of a collaborative of over thirty community organizations.

The CAP’s indicators are organized among 5 domains that align with the 5 areas of the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). Beyond the integration of SDOH national measures and objectives, Healthy People 2020 targets are also highlighted, offering context to what is happening at the local level.

Across these areas, the CAP features over 80 indicators and approximately 190 measures, including both primary and secondary data. Indicators must meet the governing criteria that were set the project’s inception stipulating that indicators need to be understandable to the general user and the public, responsive to change, relevant for policy decisions, and updated regularly.

View the Better Know a CIC Project Webinar (2017-02-02):  Santa Cruz Community Assessment Project

Project URL

Indicator Domains

Demographics, Economic stability, Health and healthcare, Social and community context, Natural and built environment (including public safety and the natural environment)

Reporting Format

Annual Report, Online Reporting, Online Dashboard, Interactive Online Display

Awards & Accomplishments:

In 2013, the CAP was featured in Santa Cruz County’s application and award of the first Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Prize. This annual prize recognizes six communities in America that are making strides to become healthier and more equitable communities. Since that time, the CAP has been nationally featured by the National Academies of Science, Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable for Population Health Improvement. In 2007, the CAP was chosen as one of the best community indicator projects in the United States, winning first place in the Community Indicators Consortium Innovation Awards sponsored by the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. Profiles and articles on the CAP can be found in various publications including the books, Community Quality of Life Indicators, Best Practices III; Diversity and Community Development: An Intercultural Approach; and in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Statistics, Knowledge and Policy 2007: Measuring and Fostering the Progress of Societies, and the journal, Applied Research in Quality of Life. Additionally, in 2011, The United States General Accounting Office (GAO) determined that the CAP project was a best practice methodology for indicator reports.

Other Partners

United Way

Project Contact:

Susan Brutschy
Applied Survey Research - Nonprofit - Research
Watsonville CA USA

Related Resources: