There is an urgent need to facilitate and amplify community-centered efforts to remove economic and social obstacles to health such as poverty and discrimination and ensure that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthy. In recent years, there has been a surge in models designed to cultivate and leverage multi-sector collaboratives to tackle the root causes of social problems through systems change, yet much remains to be learned about how such transformation happens in communities and how funders can best support those who carry out this important work.
In 2020, COVID-19 exposed systemic racism and structural inequities on an undeniable scale. At the same time, planning efforts began for a potential fourth cohort of BUILD (BUILD 4.0). Consensus emerged that BUILD should continue to drive systems change and prioritize community-led efforts and the advancement of health equity. The question remained however: how can BUILD best support communities in their efforts to advance health equity in the reality we were facing in 2020? To answer this question, a Listening Tour was undertaken in 2021 with current and past BUILD awardees to better understand ways to address racial equity, center community members as equal partners, and strengthen cross-sector partnerships to drive system changes.
From this process (detailed in two earlier blog posts: Collaborating for Change and Designing With, Not For), five key learnings surfaced. In the report, Listening, Learning, and Leading Together, each is followed by the voices from community leaders, as well as recommendations for how to utilize that strategy and take action.
BUILD is using the insights from this learning journey to inform program planning for a possible fourth cohort. We share early thinking around how we’re thinking about operationalizing what we heard and translating learnings into programmatic elements in the “Afterword” section. This process and the analysis from this Listening Tour have not only helped BUILD’s stakeholders be more explicit about our role in advancing racial justice, but also provided a clarion call for what program leaders within community health must do in our pursuit of health equity — that is centering community voice.
We acknowledge that this project represents just one small step on our health equity journey and that the road to advance equity is a long and difficult one to traverse. I hope that the insights and recommendations from this report help set forth a path for those with a similar vision for better health for all and that you will share your stories and perspectives on equity with us as well. We’re listening.
Special thanks to key partners who made the Listening Tour possible:
- The co-facilitators representing past BUILD awardees:
- Evette De Luca, MSI, President & Network Weaver with The Social Impact Artists
- Benzel Jimmerson, Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Diversity Dynamic Consulting and the Metro DEEP – Diversity and Economic Equity Project;
- Robert Nnake, Population Health Consultant (previously with BUILD 2.0 partner, Memorial Hermann Health System); and
- Kellie Teter, MPA, Program Manager for Maternal Child Health at the Public Health Institute at Denver Health.
- Our partners at Success Measures® for sharing their expertise, knowledge, and creativity with us in bringing the Listening Tour to life.