Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities
- 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.
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
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
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
- Northeast Texas Community College created the
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
Well Victoria to address issues such as mental
health, resilience, and well-being.
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
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.
Networking and collaboration
February 8, 2019
Date updated or reviewed
November 3, 2021
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 7 February 2023]
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.