The Five Phases of the Community Partnerships Strategy

Trust staffers, whom we call community partners, begin by developing familiarity with the region at large and its communities, including local geography, demographic trends, major industries, institutions, employers, local stakeholders, power dynamics and more. This allows the community partner to work from an informed place and determine where to explore and with whom to connect more deeply. Community partners:

  • Visit communities in the region to get a sense of them
  • Review data that describe the region and its communities
  • Meet with people (residents, informal and formal leaders, nonprofit leaders, organized groups, etc.) to learn about the history and dynamics of communities, as well as to gauge interest and energy in partnering with The Trust.

Primary factors in determining which communities The Trust invites to partner with include community need and existing health disparities; community strengths; interest among residents (particularly those most impacted by inequities); and potential local leaders and partners to help carry out the work. At the same time, communities begin to learn about The Trust, its grantmaking processes and how it is similar to or differs from other foundations.

Once a community is identified, the community partner begins working with residents to learn more about the community’s history, culture, social and political context. Community members start to come together and begin the process of identifying local barriers to health and justice, as well as learning more about and building relationships with The Trust and each other. Notable activities include:

  • Community members are trained and supported to collect and interpret information and data through on-the-ground conversations and surveying, to understand community issues and who is most impacted by them
  • Residents learn about The Trust’s resources and limitations, and how to direct resources and funding toward “easy wins” in the community
  • An initial team of residents is established, including people most impacted by economic and racial injustices
  • The resident team learns tools for engaging productively in conversations about health equity, race and power
  • The resident team works to embed an equity lens in their team processes (for example, making sure language interpretation is available if needed, writing team agreements, setting a tone for moving through disagreements and tough conversations constructively).

These Colorado communities are currently in the Early Development phase:

  • Alamosa
  • Clifton, in eastern Grand Junction
  • Dog Patch (also known as Eastwood Heights), a neighborhood on the east side of Pueblo
  • El Jebel
  • Fort Collins
  • Northwest Aurora.

Residents in each of these communities have begun identifying the biggest challenges in the places where they live. They have noted issues that include, for instance, a lack of strong political representation, educational achievement gaps or a struggling local economy.

Each has put together a diverse team of neighbors to make sense of these problems. These teams are made up of people who care deeply about their communities, and many of them have been directly affected by the community’s most pressing challenges. Milestones include:

  • Trust and relationships among team members are now strong
  • Residents explore the causes of these problems, and do the crucial work of unearthing the injustices at their root
  • Resident teams hire appropriate staff to assist with this work; in some cases, consultants are brought in to assist with leadership development and build the capacities of team members to better accomplish this work
  • Teams start to make small grants. This process includes soliciting applications, evaluating applicants, and making decisions about how and where to allocate resources.

These Colorado communities are currently in the Development phase:

  • Craig, a city in northwestern Colorado
  • Hillside, a neighborhood in Colorado Springs
  • Fountain, a city in El Paso County
  • Montbello, a neighborhood in northeast Denver.

Residents develop local solutions to the issues they have chosen that help foster fairness and good health, especially among those most impacted in the community. They interview experts, develop working relationships with local agencies, community leaders and nonprofits, and set short- and long-term goals for addressing the most pressing issue areas—usually up to three per community. This concludes with the team of residents crafting a health equity implementation plan for the community, including a budget and plans to evaluate efforts. To date, resident teams have crafted initial, one-year implementation plans that have longer-term goals; additional implementation plans will be developed in future years that continue to focus on the same milestones.

A key part of this phase includes assuring that the plan meets the needs of those people most affected by the community’s problems. Through trainings and consultation with outside experts, residents build local capacity to carry out their vision. At the same time, communities take on an increased role in managing foundation funding and making decisions about how these resources will be allocated.

These Colorado communities are currently in the Planning phase:

  • Grand Valley, comprising the two adjoining communities of Parachute and Battlement Mesa in western Colorado
  • Sheridan, a city in the west metro Denver area
  • Yuma, a city in the Eastern Plains.

At this point in the process, communities begin implementing their proposed solutions for the most pressing inequities and have taken over a great deal of responsibility for managing the funding from The Trust. Resident teams work in partnership with their fiscal sponsor.

Each team’s work includes evaluating what is working in their health equity plan, and determining what changes and adaptations might be needed, the plan’s success and integrating the insights from that evaluation. At the same time, the residents continue to build power at the local level, especially for those groups that have historically been left out of decision-making. This includes exploring other funding opportunities, beginning advocacy on policy issues as a group and more. The residents who are most impacted by the community’s challenges continue to play an important role in making sure the plan is meeting its objectives.

These Colorado communities are currently in the Implementation phase. For more information on a specific community’s health equity implementation plan, please contact the Colorado Trust community partner supporting their work (consult the map on Community Partnerships main page):

  • Antonito, a town in the southwest corner of the San Luis Valley near the border of New Mexico
  • Avondale, a community in Pueblo County
  • Dove Creek, a town in Dolores County near the Utah border
  • Fort Morgan, a small city in northeast Colorado
  • Lago Vista Mobile Home Park, in Larimer County near Loveland
  • Olathe, a Western Slope community just north of Montrose
  • Saguache and KV Estates, in the northern part of the San Luis Valley
  • San Luis, a town in the southeast San Luis Valley.