The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (Blue Cross NC)’s Community-Centered Health (CCH) initiative supports collaboration between clinical and community organizations to better understand, and act on, social determinants of health. Rather than individual-centered and treatment-oriented, this initiative took a community-centered and prevention-oriented approach.
In the early stages, Healthy Places by Design collaborated with a design team to help ensure the initiative was truly community-led and community-driven. Throughout the project, our team continued to provide strategic guidance to Blue Cross NC and support to the funded coalitions as they organized their cross-sector partners and community residents to improve conditions in their neighborhoods.
In 2018, we coached coalitions through the development of sustainability plans that would lead to diversified investments and partnerships long-term. As part of that process, we facilitated meetings during which partner organizations and community members talked about their long-range visions, identified existing assets, and noted future needs in order to keep the momentum going. Our team emphasized the importance of thinking creatively about other sources of support once the grant funding ended. Each community ultimately determined emerging opportunities and gained clearly communicated commitments from partners, like leadership training and staffing support for CCH in the future.
For example, in Guilford County, the Cottage Grove neighborhood association decided to work with nearby neighborhood associations to strengthen health in the overall region. And in Gaston County, the Highland neighborhood association will use its new 501C(3) status to generate additional revenue for community development efforts. Other community examples from this initiative can be found on our blog.
Throughout the initiative, Healthy Places by Design:
Specific services we provided included:
“All the beautiful changes in Cottage Grove have happened because of how resident leadership has grown, which in turn increased neighborhood capacity. Some had never before spoken in front of City Council, nor even been in the chamber, and they were hesitant to speak. Now they are quick to go downtown and advocate. We used to facilitate neighborhood meetings. Now, residents convene and lead the meetings on their own. Capacity is contagious. Once a few lead, others grow into that role. Cottage Grove doesn’t look the same as it did in 2016 when we started. For example, Apache Street Park was desolate and an eyesore. Now, with new equipment there, I’ll see 15-20 kids playing at a time. It’s wonderful. It makes me feel good to see the possibilities of what can happen when people come together.”
Project Coordinator, Greensboro Housing Coalition
“Working together strengthened our resiliency. This community has bounced back from so much drama and tragedy, like the tornado. People came together to help one another without preconceived motives or ideologies about, “is there something in it for me?” When tragedy hits, people in this community are taking pride in helping one another. The resiliency and selflessness they had was paramount for me.”
Community Member and Team Leader, Healthy Housing Community Action
“Healthy Places by Design supports partnerships and the individuals that form them to act on what they already know—that the most impactful approaches to addressing significant health disparities come from people with direct experience of the conditions that create those disparities.”
Senior Program Officer, Health Care, BCBSNC Foundation
“Working together strengthened our resiliency.”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation partnered with us for strategic advice as the foundation tailored its Community-Centered Health initiative. Notably, Instead of an individual-centered and treatment-oriented lens on health, this approach was community-centered and prevention-oriented.
In health care circles, conversation is heating up about the social determinants of health, community prevention and clinical-community connections. Behind it all is a growing recognition that health, prosperity and social justice are not only connected, but are also built in communities.