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Community Organizer and Capacity Builder Model

As community organizers and capacity builders, community health workers (CHWs) promote community action and garner support and resources from community organizations to implement new activities. CHWs may also motivate their communities to seek specific policy and social changes.

To develop a more coordinated approach to serving their target population, CHWs build relationships with a diverse range of individuals and organizations, including:

  • Public health organizations
  • Grassroots organizations
  • Healthcare providers
  • Faith-based groups
  • Universities
  • Government agencies

CHWs may also participate on the larger program Steering Committee to network, increase their knowledge about the program, and strengthen their professional skills. In this model, a CHW may be employed by a healthcare provider, community organization or other entity.

Examples of Community Organizer and Capacity Builder Models

  • The Northern Dental Access Center Medical-Legal Partnership provides support services and to low-income patients in rural Minnesota. Dental patients complete a self-screening document to identify legal or other issues that may be interfering with their health. CHWs support patient advocacy and care coordination.
  • The Bridge, a program of the Western Appalachian Health Care Access Consortium, is a CHW program that provides home visits, navigation, and other outreach to support patients with chronic diseases. CHWs also serve as community organizers to enlist other community members to serve as CHWs.

Implementation Considerations

In this model, CHWs must have extensive knowledge of the healthcare system and the different organizations in their community that provide social and support services to their target population. The CHWs must feel comfortable articulating their ideas in front of a large group and networking with other community stakeholders.

Resources to Learn More

Community Health Workers: Social Justice and Policy Advocates for Community Health and Well-Being
Describes the role of CHWs in helping, researching, and advocating for human rights and social justice.
Citation: American Journal of Public Health, 98(1): 11-14
Date: 1/2008