By building their collective power, communities can best address injustices that impact people disproportionately based on their race or ethnicity, their income or where they live.
A cornerstone of this work is that it centers the people most challenged by inequities, and believes in their power to organize themselves to advocate for change. When it comes time to create solutions, the people most affected by specific challenges should have a lead role in determining how to address them. For instance, if a community identifies a lack of affordable housing as a pressing issue, then those people who are most struggling to afford a place to live should have opportunities to articulate how the problem affects them, propose solutions and oversee their implementation.
Each community takes the lead in both crafting its own solutions and evaluating whether its efforts are meeting these goals. These solutions are rooted in addressing one or more social determinants of health specific to their community.
At the same time, the strategy has an overarching objective: To partner with communities to support them in building their collective power—and specifically the power of people who have been historically disenfranchised.
In August 2020, The Trust shifted its approach to the Community Partnerships strategy to one centered on community organizing. Community feedback and the strategy evaluation have indicated that the first five years of this strategy created capacity and built power, especially at the individual level. These learnings also indicated that it was necessary to evolve the strategy into one centered on collective power building, using defined cycles of planning and action rooted in longstanding community organizing principles. The Trust believes this will result more explicitly in lasting, sustainable systemic change and improved health equity outcomes.
This approach will allow The Trust to build community organizing capacity in clear, measurable and proven ways. It will allow resident teams to see wins from their efforts throughout the process and be able to take action on issues as they arise, in the way community organizing intends. When communities see and feel the fruits of even small labors, power is built and systems can begin to change.
This organizing cycle is not original to The Trust. It is a variation on similar organizing cycles that have been developed in the field of grassroots community organizing over the course of at least 50 years. This model is inclusive of the four strategic goals of the Community Partnerships strategy:
- Support community organizers to develop leaders in communities.
- Support communities to take collective action to improve the conditions of their lives.
- Support the creation of a durable, community-appropriate organization in place to build power and mobilize resources beyond the investment of The Colorado Trust—an organization able to recruit people, develop leaders, gather information and organize the money needed to accomplish the goals.
- Support communities to be a meaningful part of an organizing infrastructure that is being built regionally and across the state.
The shift in approach within this strategy has resulted in significant interest, feedback and questions from many people and organizations. To help provide clarity and more details, we have created Community Partnerships Organizing Cycle: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. This document will be updated regularly over time, so please check back here in the future.
- We use community organizing tactics and strategies to execute our work and build a community‘s collective power to advance health equity.
- We partner with people in communities who experience adverse impact and treatment (both unintentional and intentional discrimination) in their everyday lives to lead this work on the ground.
- The partnerships develop sustainable capacities and networks that go beyond building individual power to build collective power for systemic change.
- We strive for systems change—changes in norms, narratives, and institutional practices and policies that will lead to shared power and social justice.
- We support ongoing learning throughout the strategy by transparently sharing successes and failures to adopt standard best practices. Any variations in our agreed-upon practices—including the reasoning and the expected and desired outcomes—are vetted and communicated before, during and after implementation.
- Our collective celebrations, evaluations and follow-through are required practices to ensure sustained change and evolution in the strategy and across the work.
For more information, please contact Morris W. Price, Jr., vice president of grants, (303)837-1200.
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