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Community-Centered Health

In nine communities across the state, diverse partnerships of stakeholders are working together to break down barriers to good health.

Background

A person’s health is influenced not only by the health care they receive, but more so by the interplay and influence of social, environmental, structural, and economic factors. This reality calls for a way of addressing health in partnership with those most impacted by inequities and inclusive of all sectors – public, private, and government – to identify and implement improvements within communities that support better health for all.

Community-Centered Health is our long-term, multi‐dimensional approach to increasing the capacity of North Carolina communities to act on the root causes of health and health inequities. It is grounded in our belief that as a society, we must look beyond traditional health care settings, break out of silos, name the root causes of illness and inequities, and address those causes in ways that elevate community perspective and shift power.

Initially implemented in 2013, this work – based on the idea of the Community-Centered Health Home developed by Prevention Institute – was a significant milestone in our turn toward prioritizing social determinants of health and increasing our focus on health equity. The goal is to make sure everyone who lives in North Carolina has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.

In short, Community-Centered Health results in transformative shifts within a community.

  • Power shifts are facilitated by the development of clinical-community partnerships in which people who have experienced the conditions that cause inequities have leadership roles and avenues to share their perspectives with health care organizations.
  • Systems-level shifts are the policy, systems, and environmental changes that lead to sustained impact and significant health improvements throughout a community; and shifts in culture and clinical processes within health care organizations so they can better identify and act on non‐medical barriers to optimal health for all people.

Approach

Community-Centered Health is a multi-year, cross-sector partnership with nine communities across the state. This partnership employs three core elements to support the development and learning about the power of the Community-Centered Health approach.

  • Grantmaking: Early grants supported initial partnership development including trust building, governance, decision-making structures, and identifying root causes of inequities in their communities. Current and future funding supports four years of implementation work to create change for the health of their communities.
  • Technical Assistance: This includes a variety of capacity-building methods, including site-specific consulting and connection to subject-matter expertise; community coaching, skill building, and training; and leadership development opportunities.
  • Evaluation: It’s important to identify the activities, essential milestones, and factors that support this level of change. With this kind of analysis, we can take the ideas and interventions that have been shown to improve health in specific communities and spread them throughout North Carolina – and influence activity across the country.

In Practice

Currently, we invest in nine collaborations across the state, each implementing unique approaches to address emerging health needs within their specific communities.

Our first cohort of Community-Centered Health grantees includes collaborations in Asheville, Gastonia, and Greensboro. Supported by more than $2 million in investments since 2015, these communities are seeing positive results in local policy, environment, and systems changes.

In 2019, we added six additional communities, forming the second cohort of Community-Centered Health grantees. These communities were supported with an initial 15-month planning grant and are now part of a $7.5 million commitment to support their work, to learn, and to inspire community conditions that increase health equity over the next five years.

 

Community Partnerships

Explore the map below to learn more about each of the nine communities. Click the pop-up boxes to visit detailed profiles on each.