Written by Linda Sheriff, M. Ed.; Deputy Director, The Center For Health and Health Care in Schools; The George Washington University
Disclaimer: Moving Health Care Upstream is a collaborative effort co-led by Nemours Children’s Health System (Nemours) and the Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities at the University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA). The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Nemours, UCLA or the Moving Health Care Upstream initiative.
Who should you partner with to create lasting change through resilience in your community? The Building Community Resilience (BCR) initiative aims to address, prevent, and reduce the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and adverse community environments (ACEs) on children’s health and wellbeing (The “Pair of ACEs”). An essential element of the successes of BCR’s five test sites around the country has been strategic collaborations. In your work to build resilience, identifying and pooling resources with the right partners will help advance your goals. The Pair of ACEs Tree image can help you describe the issues and opportunities to potential partners. And the BCR Coalition Building and Communications Guide and webinar offer practical approaches to communicating your visions for community resilience and in creating a shared understanding with partners.
Now some key questions: Who should you establish relationships with to provide depth and breadth to your movement? Who are the right partners to work with in building resilience and creating lasting change in your community?
The BCR Partner Build Grow Action Guide Tools are resources that can help you create a strategic road map for change. The Identifying Potential Partners Tool will help you build a coalition and develop partnerships with groups that share the same overarching goals. By joining forces with like-minded individuals and organizations, you can achieve greater impact as a coalition that represents a larger swath of the community. Cultivating a broad coalition adds strength to your initiative and can enable you to quickly react and engage when opportunities arise.
The Identifying Potential Partners Tool helps you think beyond your usual partners to thoughtfully expand your network. For example, what groups, organizations or individuals have a stake in the Pair of ACEs tree in your community? Are there community action groups, community health providers or services, government officials, faith-based groups, after school programs, or recreation programs doing work that promotes resilience? Which groups will not only support your effort, but work with you to develop shared understanding and reach your coalition’s goals?
This tool also provides a structure to help you track the work and interests of organizations and stakeholders in your community. As your BCR initiative progresses, the tool can help you determine who to collaborate with when looking to advance a particular idea. For instance, if you want to influence a specific state or local legislative proposal, you can use it to identify the most influential constituents – including leaders and community organizations – in a lawmaker’s home district. Similarly, when targeting policy changes within an organization, there are times when support from staff or clients may influence an organization’s decision.
Before you get overwhelmed by this process, just remember that building relationships takes time! You should not expect to create an entire coalition overnight. Developing an effective coalition is about taking time, being deliberate about fostering relationships, building trust, and respecting mutual goals and pathways for success. It has taken BCR test sites two years to get to the point to where they are now implementing programs that will result in measurable change.
BCR has created these and other tools to help you reach your goals. Join our BCR Facebook group and tell us how it’s going – and let our national BCR collaborative share our experiences with you.
*The BCR Partner Build Grow Action Guide Tools were adapted for BCR from Partner Build Grow: An Action Guide for Sustaining Child Development and Prevention Approaches, an interactive website from the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools at George Washington University.