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Advancing community-led action & proven, place-based strategies to ensure health & wellbeing for all.

We are strategic partners for communities and those who invest in them, helping turn visions of health into equitable and lasting impact. Drawing on our experience supporting hundreds of partnerships, we strengthen assets and enhance efforts to grow an enduring culture of health and wellbeing.

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A partnership with our team is an investment in a strategic approach to healthier communities.

Since 2002, our organization has provided extensive, direct technical assistance, coaching, and consultation to more than 200 community partnerships in 42 states, and has worked with more than two dozen philanthropic organizations.

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Socially Connected Communities

Social isolation is not a personal choice or individual problem, but one that is rooted in community design, social norms, and systemic injustices. We must reshape our communities in ways that support meaningful social connection among residents, improve trust between neighbors, and strengthen an overall sense of belonging and community. Find resources and action steps you can take here.

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Community Action Model

The Community Action Model was developed with insights from more than a dozen years of supporting successful community health initiatives and a deep understanding of the community change process.

The model highlights themes and lessons about community-led change that transcend even the most disparate places and is relevant for a variety community health goals. It can be tailored for community coalitions, local leaders looking for a collaborative process to creating healthier places, and to funders seeking a tested approach for local investments. It also outlines expected impacts.

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Community Context

Our work with local leaders in 35 states has underscored the importance of community context—every place is unique.

Two communities in a similar geographic setting, with comparable population and demographics, can still have radically different histories and cultural characteristics that influence their health. Recognizing, honoring, and accounting for a community’s context matters at every stage of the work. When funders, local leaders, and partnerships fully recognize and understand these unique community settings, strategies and tactics can be aligned with and leverage various dynamics at play.

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Essential Practice

Health Equity Focus

An intentional focus on reducing health disparities in communities by eliminating avoidable and unjust health inequities affected by social, economic, and environmental conditions.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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Essential Practice

Community Engagement

An intentional process of empowering people to authentically engage in and contribute to the planning and implementation of solutions within their own communities.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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Essential Practice

Facilitative Leadership

A capacity-building and management approach that shifts power and influence among engaged partners in order to produce actions and outcomes that are generated by and best serve a group rather than one or two strong or vocal leaders.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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Essential Practice

Sustainable Thinking

A consideration of the social, environmental, and economic assets and opportunities that are necessary for successful and lasting community change.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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Essential Practice

Culture of Learning

Ingrained, ongoing opportunities in a community to improve effectiveness and impact through partnerships, continual assessment of initiatives, and collaborative sharing and learning.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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Essential Practice

Strategic Communication

A goal-driven method of communication that aligns messages and tactics with communities’ priorities and audiences’ values, recalibrates based on measurable results, and strives for an evolving dialogue.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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3P ACTION CYCLE

Partner

Partner with others to address complex issues. While positive community changes are often championed by strong and passionate leaders, sustained impact requires broader multi-disciplinary and cross-sector coalitions that set collective priorities and act in concert.

The 3P Action Steps are not necessarily linear; rather, this community change process is iterative. Leaders of healthy community change initiatives can determine their own communities’ strengths and weaknesses within each step and address any gaps accordingly as they continue to increase their capacity to effect change.

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3P ACTION CYCLE

Prepare

Prepare continuously to succeed. Preparation is not limited to the early stages of a community-change initiative. Rather, it is the ongoing and deliberate process of assessment and re-assessment; prioritizing and planning; building capacity; and leveraging resources.

The 3P Action Steps are not necessarily linear; rather, this community change process is iterative. Leaders of healthy community change initiatives can determine their own communities’ strengths and weaknesses within each step and address any gaps accordingly as they continue to increase their capacity to effect change.

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3P ACTION CYCLE

Progress

Progress by identifying and implementing practical strategies. Just as each community exists in a unique context, placed-based community change initiatives may not all follow the same formula, and some strategies will result in varying levels of impact and sustainability.

The 3P Action Steps are not necessarily linear; rather, this community change process is iterative. Leaders of healthy community change initiatives can determine their own communities’ strengths and weaknesses within each step and address any gaps accordingly as they continue to increase their capacity to effect change.

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Community Action Model

The Community Action Model was developed with insights from more than a dozen years of supporting successful community health initiatives and a deep understanding of the community change process.

The model highlights themes and lessons about community-led change that transcend even the most disparate places and is relevant for a variety community health goals. It can be tailored for community coalitions, local leaders looking for a collaborative process to creating healthier places, and to funders seeking a tested approach for local investments. It also outlines expected impacts.

Learn More

Our Blog

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5.18.22

Creating Great Places: A Conversation with Amanda O’Rourke

Our newest board member, Amanda O’Rourke, is passionate about transforming cities into great places for all people of all ages. In this interview with Risa Wilkerson, she describes how her childhood inspired her career, how listening to youth and older adults helped her check her biases, and much more.

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5.3.22

Conveners for Health and Equity in Six New York Communities: Community Convener Linda Bryant- Project EATS

With the help of New York State Health Foundation’s (NYSHealth) Healthy Neighborhood Initiative, Project EATS is creating opportunities for the youth in Brooklyn while growing organic produce.

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4.26.22

Conveners for Health and Equity in Six New York Communities: Community Convener Leah Russell – Syracuse Peacemaking Project, Center for Court Innovation

Learn how the Center for Court Innovation, with the support of the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, improved access to healthy food in Syracuse, New York.

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4.19.22

Conveners for Health and Equity in Six New York Communities: Community Conveners Arlen Zamula and Caitlin Falvey – Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

With the help of the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, organizations in East Harlem were able to get funded during the pandemic. Read more in this blog.

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4.12.22

Conveners for Health and Equity in Six New York Communities: Community Convener Mandy Snay – Clinton County Health Department

With the help of the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, this health department in Clinton County, New York invested in partners throughout the county. As a result community residents became advocates making an impact.

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4.5.22

Three Ways Public Libraries Support Socially Connected Communities

You may be surprised to learn that libraries—and librarians—play an expansive role in building community and supporting health that goes well beyond their well-earned reputation for providing access to information. Read our latest blog from guest author, Noah Lenstra, for more.

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4.5.22

Conveners for Health and Equity in Six New York Communities: Community Conveners Jennifer Vallone & Michele Rodriguez – University Settlement

In our latest blog, we highlight another one of six community conveners working with the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative across the state of New York. Find out how these conveners worked to create a community more educated about healthy eating.

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3.29.22

Increasing Social Connectedness in Rural Settings

As part of an ongoing virtual learning network series, we recently hosted a conversation with local leaders to discuss rural strategies for social connections. On this particular call, people working in rural areas across many different communities discussed how they address rural isolation and shared ideas to create more connectedness.

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