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Rural Health Information Hub

Building Community Partnerships to Sustain Health Equity Programs

Community support and buy-in play key roles in program sustainability. When community members feel that their concerns are being heard, programs are more likely to be sustained in the community. Research among American Indian/Alaska Native communities also indicates that sustainability improves when a program demonstrates cultural relevance and is supported by the community.

FSG's Sustaining and Scaling Health Equity Impact describes a systems mapping method to help programs identify and connect with potential partners. Relevant partners may include:

  • Healthcare systems and providers, such as community clinics, hospitals, and healthcare providers in private practice
  • Public and private payers, including private insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid
  • Private sector companies, such as pharmacies and local businesses
  • State and local government agencies, including the health department, social services department, and city council
  • Agencies that deal with a community's infrastructure, such as transportation and schools
  • Community organizations, such as faith-based organizations, coalitions, and task forces

After identifying potential partners, it is important to gain their support and buy-in. Partnerships should clearly define shared goals, define each partner's roles in sustaining the program, and share ideas of how to maintain momentum once the program's initial implementation phase ends. Identifying the right partners and keeping them engaged is foundational to gaining community support and ensuring that services are relevant to the population.

For additional information on building collaboration, see Fostering Multi-Sector Collaboration to Advance Health Equity in Module 2. For additional information on the importance of reaching collaborators who can offer support for health equity interventions, see Identifying and Engaging Dissemination Audiences for Health Equity Work in Module 7.

Resources to Learn More

Creating A Force Multiplier – Why Advocates for Rural Health and Health Equity Should Work Together
Discusses similarities between rural communities and communities of color and how funding efforts can bring these groups together to multiply community impact.
Author(s): James, C. V.
Organization(s): Grantmakers in Health
Date: 9/2020

Partnerships for Health Equity and Opportunity: A Healthcare Playbook for Community Developers
Guide for community developers supporting the establishment of effective partnerships with hospitals and healthcare systems that advance health equity.
Author(s): Moore, A.
Organization(s): Build Healthy Places Network, Public Health Institute
Date: 2018

Promoting Health Equity: A Resource to Help Communities Address Social Determinants of Health
Workbook to assist public health practitioners in the development and expansion of initiatives addressing the social determinants of health. Presents case studies from three groups — small-scale programs, traditional public health programs, and large-scale programs — detailing various strategies and policy initiatives for addressing inequities.
Author(s): Brennan Ramirez, L. K., Baker, E. A., & Metzler, M.
Organization(s): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Date: 2008