Every quarter, The BUILD Health Challenge® (BUILD) community awardees share with us their progress, their challenges, their wins, and their strategies to move forward. These stories and community insights help to inform real-time decisions we make about the program, including how we design and improve our technical assistance support plan, our progress evaluation, and our learning community. Equally importantly, it helps us understand how we can improve cross-sector collaborations in community health at large. Rather than hold these observations to ourselves until the end of the program, we wanted to share a little of what we are seeing, as we learn it, in the hope that it will help inform those who share a similar journey.  

Currently, the 18 BUILD communities in the third cohort are nearing the end of their two-and-a-half-year program. Below, we share a collection of learnings about where BUILD communities are focusing as they enter the final period of their BUILD awards. Typically, a few common areas of progress and struggles rise to the top, so we have curated those trends that are indicative of the cohort’s overall progress or are notable on their own. 

Sustainability planning: 

Unsurprisingly, we heard from numerous sites that sustainability is top of mind right now. Teams identified activities including finding resources to continue programs, formalizing structures and agreements, strategizing with partners, and fundraising. Partners were also ensuring that staff and resident partners are supported and have a transition plan to new roles if needed. This work is particularly critical because… 

Staffing and supply chain challenges: 

As we’ve seen in past BUILD cohorts, retaining and recruiting staff at the end of an award cycle is a common challenge. In addition – like much of the country – several BUILD teams have encountered hiring challenges and supply chain delays that are impacting their projects. Most teams who highlighted these issues are approaching them with a mix of creativity and patience. 

Pipeline building and training: 

Several teams reported the completion of training and learning opportunities during this quarter. These training projects are primarily aimed at capacity building among residents, including job training, peer counseling, life skill building, and advocacy training, with the ultimate goal of supporting resilient residents and community leaders going forward. In December, past BUILD awardees from Houston and New Orleans joined current awardees to share their experience of developing community advocacy capacity. (Learn more about other community advocacy capacity building projects in the current cohort.)  

Community ownership 

Relatedly, community members are playing a leading role in shaping the work of BUILD partners. Two teams recently launched successful microgrant programs to identify and implement community-led projects. Others worked to formalize community advisory structures to ensure that residents have leading roles in designing partnership goals and projects.  

Language justice:  

From incorporating language justice into state health equity plans, to organizing in communities with non-English speakers, to ensuring that medical data bases are designed to support residents from diverse backgrounds, creating inclusive and welcoming spaces is a priority and critical step towards improving health for many BUILD partners. In response, our technical assistance team at ChangeLab Solutions organized a workshop last month, with guest Lena Morán-Acereto of Bridging Voices-Uniendo Voces, focused on making the case for creating multi-lingual spaces and strategies for how to do it well.  

— 

While the current cohort has less than six months left on their BUILD awards, the coming year will continue to produce important learnings from their experiences that we are excited to share with you. Stay tuned for more!