Utilizing the Community Capitals Framework and Community Network Mapping to Analyze the Impacts of COVID-19 and the Federal Stimulus Packages on Poverty in Vinton County, Ohio

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The Ohio State University

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In March 2020, countries around the world entered mass lockdowns to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has affected not only global health, but the economic viability of communities, and has been the influence behind many financial adjustments in areas who were already struggling with poverty before the pandemic hit. The purpose of this study is to document recent direct and indirect causes of poverty in Vinton County, Ohio, and how COVID-19 and the federal stimulus bills have affected poverty in the area from March 2020 to January 2022. Through the concepts of the Community Capitals Framework and community network mapping, this research aims to provide Vinton County community leaders and organizations with an understanding of which community assets impact poverty and what areas they can improve upon to address the issue, while taking COVID-19 and federal relief into consideration. A list of community-based organizations (CBOs) has been identified through observation and snowball sampling to create a community network map. The community network map is used as a visual tool for understanding the flow of assets between groups, and how CBOs within the Vinton County community interact. Although the economic impact of the pandemic on Vinton County is not yet entirely known, it was concluded that infrastructure is a leading cause of poverty in Vinton County, specifically water and broadband infrastructure, in which the pandemic highlighted. Conclusions raised the argument that local leadership in small, rural communities such as Vinton County is aging and overwhelmed, causing strain on asset distribution and allocation. CBOs inside and connected to Vinton County were already benefitting from bonding and bridging social capital pre-pandemic to accomplish shared missions, visions, and goals, and during the pandemic, many CBOs focused on making an impact in ways they knew how, and oftentimes found themselves "going in circles" with the same set of leading organizations. CBOs not associated with the community network can bridge social capital to additional organizations using the provided map to accomplish said visions, spreading the load of development work across the community network and not a specific set of leading organizations. Reviewed by research advisors Dr. Kenneth Martin (Martin.1540@osu.edu) and Dr. Joe Campbell (Campbell.844@osu.edu).


2nd Place - Social Sciences Category, 2022 CFAES Undergraduate Research Festival


COVID-19, Appalachia, Vinton County, Community Development, Stimulus Funding, Network Mapping