Community Champions and Partners for Health Literacy Programs
Community champions can contribute to the success of rural health literacy programs. Champions are known and
trusted by the community; they are seen as credible by community members and can bring a sense of legitimacy and
value to the goals of a program. Program partners, such as community members and community-based
organizations, are important assets and can bring a deep knowledge about the geographic area and local
culture and may understand motivations that impact health decisions.
Examples of individuals who may serve as health literacy champions and potential program partners include:
- Community health workers or other lay health workers who live and work in the community
- Local doctors, nurses, and other medical staff
- Staff from local health departments
- Law enforcement and fire departments
- Library staff
- Public and private school staff
- Cooperative Extension agents
- Faith-based leaders in the community
- Leaders from other community-based organizations
It is important to empower community members to set program goals, identify needs, and weigh in on the
implementation process. This builds a sense of ownership among all community partners. This process works best
when people make a commitment to the cause and are invested, and it often requires trust and
relationship-building. Enlisting partners such as community-based organizations and institutions such as
churches, schools, and health clinics to help with messaging can also help to reach members of the
Similarly, improving organizational health literacy requires buy-in from organizational leaders and community
members. Successful health literacy programs note that improving health literacy may require changing a mindset.
In addition, programs should encourage flexibility when working with program partners as partners' needs can
change during implementation.
The Social Determinants of Health in Rural Communities Toolkit provides implementation considerations,
resources, and strategies when considering developing
Resources to Learn More
Provides information about the role and importance of community health champions in improving health literacy
and promoting health. Lists key characteristics of effective champions.
Organization(s): Community Development & Health Network
Community Partnerships in Rural Communities: Strategies and Techniques
Describes how community organizations, local health departments, and healthcare providers can establish and
maintain partnerships to meet the needs of rural communities.
Organization(s): National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)