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Identify and Engage Possible Partners

Factors contributing to health in rural communities are complex. Because of this, interventions are more likely to be effective when a diverse representation of community residents and organizations are engaged in planning and implementation.

Successful and sustained health efforts are only achieved through support from the community-at-large, as well as organizations, institutions, and other stakeholders interested in health issues.

Partnerships expand the resources, knowledge, expertise, and support available to address targeted issues. Engaging a diverse group of partners will ensure that the goals of the program reflect a wide range of community perspectives and will increase community acceptance and awareness, contributing to the success of the program.

Stakeholders and partners involved in health promotion may include:

  • Community organizations: parent groups, youth organizations, ministerial alliances, peer-support services, churches and other faith-based groups, service organizations, domestic violence programs, local businesses, block clubs, business organizations, charitable groups, civic events groups, cultural groups, disability/special needs groups, elderly groups, environmental groups, family support groups, foundations, media, mentoring groups, neighborhood groups, nonprofits, and service clubs.
  • State, tribal, county, and local governments: social service agencies, public health agencies, police force, fire departments, parks and recreation departments, recreation groups, transit authorities, USDA Cooperative Extension
  • Educational institutions: administrators, teachers, counselors, schools nurses, youth organizations, sports teams, afterschool programs, community colleges, education groups, libraries, schools, universities
  • Healthcare: medical and mental health providers, emergency medical services, area health education centers, health advocacy and fitness groups

In order to increase community support for the program, partners should:

  • Participate in an advisory capacity or champion specific areas
  • Offer expertise and insight as it relates to their area of expertise
  • Demonstrate transparency, sharing information, materials, data, and evaluation results
  • Actively participate in establishing an action plan
  • Share responsibility for planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs
  • Ensure cultural relevance
  • Agree with and understand their roles and expectations within the network
  • Attend community meetings, forums, receptions, events, or conferences to share program information with the general public

Source : Discovering Community Power: A Guide to Mobilizing Local Assets and Your Organization’s Capacity
Kretzmann, J. & McKnight, J.; Asset-Based Community Development Institute, School of Education and Social Policy; Northwestern University, 2005

In many cases, rural communities already have networks in place. Due to limited resources in rural public health departments and other rural entities, health needs of these communities are often met by networks of community, hospital, and non-governmental organizations. Such networks can help plan comprehensive, local solutions to address identified health priorities.

Resources to Learn More

Community Advisory Boards in Community-Based Participatory Research: A Synthesis of Best Processes
Document
Describes the best processes for forming, operating, and maintaining Community Advisory Boards (CABs) for community-based participatory research (CBPR).
Author(s): Newman, S.D., Andrews, J.O., Magwood, G.S., Jenkins, C., Cox, M.J., & Williamson, D.C.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Location: Preventing Chronic Disease, 8(3), A70
Date: 5/2011

Developing Effective Coalitions: An Eight Step Guide
Document
This tool provides a helpful framework for establishing a coalition.
Author(s): Cohen, L., Baer, N., & Satterwhite P.
Organization(s): Prevention Institute
Date: 2002

Phase 1: Organizing and Engaging Partners
Website
This tool provides resources, trainings, and other tools to assist with engaging partners, stakeholders, community members, and media.
Organization(s): National Association of County & City Health Officials

Regional Coalitions for Healthcare Improvement: Definitions, Lessons, and Prospects
Document
This report examines the role and effectiveness of regional coalitions in leading and implementing initiatives to improve healthcare quality in their communities. Findings are based on a review of community case studies.
Author(s): Mosser, G., Karp, M., & Rabson, B.
Organization(s): Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement
Date: 8/2006

Work Together
Website
This tool provides information on recruiting stakeholders and building relationships.
Organization(s): County Health Rankings and Roadmaps