The Health Collaborative

Danville Regional Foundation
Dan River Region, NC and VA



The Health Collaborative is a group of passionate, multi-sector community leaders who are committed to improving health in the Dan River Region, which includes Pittsylvania County, VA; Danville, VA; and Caswell County, NC. The Health Collaborative is working to build a strong network across sectors; educate key stakeholders and the community on promising practices; and implement community-led plans that prioritize equity and sustainability. The Collaborative's Health for All Action Plan serves as a 10-year blueprint for both short-term projects and long-term strategies that focus on policy, systems, and environmental changes to create a healthier Dan River region.

Healthy Places by Design is working closely with the Danville Regional Foundation on collaborative planning and implementation strategies to support the Health Collaborative's work.

Project Highlights:

  • The Health Collaborative, made up of representatives from across the region, identified and are working in five goal areas: active living, healthy eating, access to healthcare, healthy spaces, and leadership and capacity building.
  • Healthy Places by Design facilitated workshops, offered thought partnership, and helped prioritize healthy living strategies that will work in the Dan River Region context. We also shared relevant evidence-based examples for impact and worked in collaboration with an evaluation committee to create evaluation plans for the Health Collaborative’s five goal areas.
  • The Health Collaborative hosts numerous events, including an annual health summit, with state and national speakers to increase the importance of policy, systems, and environmental changes in the region.


Our Support

Throughout 2018, Healthy Places by Design deepened our work with the Health Collaborative by providing strategic thought partnership around health equity. Our support included capacity building to expand health goals and strategies with residents and professionals in Caswell and Pittsylvania Counties, with plans to deepen the region’s equity work in 2019.

Our team has also supported DRF’s efforts to increase internal capacity to address equity. To date, Health Collaborative staff have attended the Racial Equity Institute (REI) Phase I training. There are additional plans to introduce the training to more members of the Health Collaborative, with a commitment from DRF to support any member who wants to take the training. This “little systems change” will build regional capacity to understand and address equity. The impact on individual leaders has also been profound; during a Health Collaborative meeting, one member stood up and said, “This training changed how I view everything about my job.”

Additional services provided:

  • Interviewing key informants to identify further strategies and barriers within the area;
  • Developing capacity reports that focus on process and outcome measures of the Collaborative;
  • Support the Health Collaborative’s coordinating committee to create and implement a dynamic action plan;
  • Identify, facilitate, and brainstorm strategic conversations around project development and creating new initiatives and structures that support health and equity;
  • Support and participate in health summit and site visit planning, and participation and facilitation at the health summits and site visits; and
  • Work with community partners to plan long-term implementation strategies.


“The REI training was pivotal in reframing how I approach the work of the Health Collaborative. The combination of historical data and participants’ experiences gave critical context to our region’s health equity report, and will inform the strategies we undertake as a community to address systemic inequities.” 

President and CEO, Chamber of Commerce, Danville and Pittsylvania County


“Though we’re early in our journey, we are starting to see members of The Health Collaborative truly integrate equity into their organizational practices and policies, including changing hiring practices, sharing decision making, and re-allocating resources. With the help of Healthy Places by Design, we hope to take our equity work to the next level with the development of a health equity leadership program. This program would develop a diverse group of local leaders who understand best practices for achieving health equity and have the knowledge, skills, courage, and supports to build more equitable organizations and neighborhoods.”

Senior Program Officer, Danville Regional Foundation


“Though we’re early in our journey, we are starting to see members of The Health Collaborative truly integrate equity into their organizational practices and policies, including changing hiring practices, sharing decision making, and re-allocating resources."

Learn more about this project on our blog:


Building Trust as a Community Leader

Qonell is a life-long resident of Danville. Everyone there seems to know him, and he knows everyone else—in part because he always shows up. He helps organize events like Rock D’Block, participates in National Night Out, and is involved in countless other community happenings. We reached out to talk about how he is able to so effectively build meaningful relationships that move people to action.

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One Foundation’s Culture of Learning Enriches a Region

Danville Regional Foundation has supported site visits for Collaborative members to visit other communities (and in addition to the valuable on-the-ground experience, the travel time is just as important for members to build relationships with each other). Now, other organizations that participate in the Health Collaborative extend invitations for workshop or training opportunities to those outside their traditional networks, because they recognize that their “community” is defined more broadly and that sharing resources builds capacity across the region.

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Community Engagement

Learn more about Community Engagement, one of Healthy Places by Design's six Essential Practices. By working collaboratively with residents who share a common geography, special interest, or similar situations, community change strategies are grounded in people’s lived experiences and provide opportunities to take positive actions that are meaningful to them. Coupled with action, empowerment is an ideal outcome of true resident engagement and community organizing.

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