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Rural Health Information Hub

Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities

Summary 
  • Need: To improve mental health and well-being in rural Texas.
  • Intervention: The Hogg Foundation has awarded $7.75 million in grants to support five rural Texas communities in developing collaborative approaches to mental health that best fit each community's needs.
  • Results: Five community collaboratives have successfully completed their planning process and developed implementation plans.

Description

The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health launched the Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities (WRC) initiative in 2018. Five organizations were chosen to create or build on an existing community collaborative and a sixth, Alliance for Greater Works, was chosen to coordinate the initiative.

The design of WRC is in keeping with the foundation's strategic emphasis on sharing power with communities and empowering local decision-making. Instead of prescribing how its funding should be spent, the foundation works with grant partners and communities to support community-driven solutions that align with each community's unique needs and strengths.

To date, the foundation has awarded $7.75 million over eight years to nonprofit, governmental, and higher education organizations in rural Texas in order to address the root causes of poor mental health. The project period consists of a three-year planning phase (2018-2021) followed by a five-year implementation phase (2021-2026).

The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is taking a different approach to addressing these barriers, through Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities (WRC). Instead of dictating how its funding should be spent, the foundation works with grantees to support community-driven solutions that align with each community's unique needs and strengths.

Hogg Foundation for Mental Health logo

The following organizations received Hogg Foundation grants to move into the implementation phase:

During the planning phase, a sixth grantee, Alliance for Greater Works, coordinated capacity-building trainings, technical assistance, contracting, evaluation, and other resources to support the five community grantees.

Services offered

Over the three-year planning phase, the grantees brought together community stakeholders, focusing on historically marginalized groups, to create a new community collaborative or build on an existing community collaborative, with the goal of developing an implementation plan to address community conditions resulting in health disparities and health inequities:

  • Bastrop County Cares created the Resilient Bastrop County Initiative, a community resilience coalition to identify causes of mental health disparities and develop solutions.
  • Community Action Corporation of South Texas created the Behavioral Health Outreach & Leadership Development (BHOLD) Project, which is fostering a culture of community engagement across socio-demographic lines and is implementing its action strategies based on community input.
  • Northeast Texas Community College created the Morris County Collaborative to focus on areas such as health equity and economic development and created partnerships with a cross-sector of industries that support and promote resilience in their community.
  • Stephen F. Austin State University created Better Together using an appreciative inquiry, community-based participatory action research method, for a bottom-up approach to engage community residents and identify strengths and leverage them to bring about change.
  • Victoria County Public Health Department created Be Well Victoria to address issues such as mental health, resilience, and well-being.

Results

At the end of the planning phase, the WRC Learning Team completed baseline assessments for each of the five collaboratives. The assessments were used to determine the stage of development of the collaboratives as they began their work, describe the community context within which each collaborative is working, and identify strengths and potential challenges.

In addition, the Learning Team provided education and training on evaluation (design, data collection, analysis, storytelling) to the sites as part of community capacity-building efforts. Community capacity domains included skills and resources, nature of social relations, structures and mechanisms for community dialogue, civic participation, value systems, and learning culture.

Replication

Here are some key considerations for others looking to replicate this work:

  • Time: Systems-change work takes a long time. Building trust and relationships is essential to creating a successful community collaborative.
  • Working through tensions: Every community has its own history of mistrust, skepticism, and conflict, so tension is inherent. Community collaboratives must work through these issues and feelings in order to create a shared vision of community wellness and well-being.
  • Leveraging: The collaborative process must include mechanisms for identifying and leveraging current assets and resources that will support a shared vision.
  • Community voice: Harnessing the power of community voice through leadership development and training on effective advocacy, identifying key policy influencers, and mobilizing community members have the potential to advance local policy. Above all, this means realizing the value of historically excluded voices and including those voices in the ranks of leadership.
  • Long game: Communities need to commit to work on a long-term, multi-year strategy versus an emphasis on today's workforce needs or gaps. Funders need to focus on long-term, multi-year grant making – including technical assistance and supports – and resources to support communities in their health equity journey.

Contact Information

Ike Evans, Communications Manager
Hogg Foundation for Mental Health
512.471.4804
imani.evans@austin.utexas.edu

Topics
Funding
Mental health
Networking and collaboration
Philanthropy
Population health

States served
Texas

Date added
February 8, 2019

Date updated or reviewed
November 3, 2021

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2021. Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1048 [Accessed 25 September 2022]


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.