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Rural Health Information Hub

Community Organization Model

The Community Organization Model is a participatory decision-making process that empowers communities to improve health. It emphasizes active participation from the community in identifying key health issues and strategies to address them. Communities focus on their strengths and collectively mobilize to develop programs to achieve health goals.

Characteristics of the Community Organization Model include:

  • Understanding the context and root causes of health issues
  • Collaborative decision making and problem solving
  • Focusing efforts on specific issues
  • Actively engaging participation from various groups and organizations within the community
  • Developing and maintaining capacity and power to produce lasting change
  • Providing feedback to the community

Community health workers (CHWs) may support community organization through targeted activities to garner support for policy and social changes. For more information on how CHWs support community organization, visit the Community Health Workers Toolkit.

Implementation Considerations

Successful health promotion and disease prevention programs rely on involvement from the community. When individual community members come together to identify problems and strategies to address them, it increases the ability of the program to affect change. Other benefits of community organization include empowerment of community members, increased ownership among community members for their health, and improved social support for achieving healthy changes.

Resources to Learn More

Community Development: A Guide for Grantmakers on Fostering Better Outcomes Through Good Process
Helps funders learn about effective collaborative community development processes and includes a variety of resources for additional study.
Organization(s): The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Date: 8/2015

Hearts in Parks: Community Mobilization Guide
Assists with heart health program planning and provides tools for implementing programs, reaching targeted groups, and forming community coalitions.
Organization(s): National Institute of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Recreation and Park Association
Date: 2001

Planned Approach to Community Health (PATCH): Guide for the Local Coordinator
Provides materials designed to help communities plan, conduct, and evaluate health promotion and disease prevention using the PATCH process.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Principles of Community Engagement: Second Edition
Combines organizing concepts, models, and frameworks from the literature to discuss several underlying principles that can assist health professionals, researchers, policy makers, and community leaders in planning, designing, implementing, and evaluating community engagement efforts.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 6/2011

Strategies for Community Change and Improvement: An Overview
Includes description of the advantages in community organizations to affect change and includes strategies to start and maintain efforts in achieving community organization.
Organization(s): Community Tool Box