Reflecting on the last five years through the lens of The BUILD Health Challenge® (BUILD) is both a humbling and inspiring act. BUILD’s story represents what is possible when cross-sector collaborations and community-driven efforts are developed with intentionality, cultivated with care, and supported with resources and networks that will fuel new insights. Yet, even with the significant impacts BUILD has helped to generate, there is still much more that must be done to create a new norm—one that is centered on health and advances health equity. And so we consider what the next five years may hold, for both BUILD and the field of community health.
Admittedly, it feels a bit presumptuous to consider this now. If we have learned anything from this past year, it is that no one is in a position to know what the next month will bring, let alone the next five years. Facing a pandemic with no definitive end in sight, a growing racial justice movement, and economic uncertainty, it feels like we are fighting a never ending battle for better health. And yet, we plan, we plot, and we persevere, because for all of us who have committed to improving community health and addressing health equity, we understand that this fight is not a new one. Rather, it is a continuation and intensification of a movement that has been going on in our country for several generations.
For those who have been part of BUILD over the last five years, and the countless others who have fought to address social determinants of health over the past several decades, we recognize how many of our challenges today are tied directly to the social and environmental factors around us. We understand all too well how these factors that stand in the way of health for so many are allowed to thrive in a sea of inequality.
We see with greater clarity than ever before the importance, need, and urgency for BUILD, and efforts like BUILD, that aim to advance health equity. This is our collective charge for the next five years—and for however long it takes.
We see how community-led efforts to design, create, and implement change can be applied in non-traditional ways that exponentially increase impact and open up new opportunities.
We see how systems level changes related to policies and funding can create momentum, and from that momentum communities experience change at unprecedented scale.
We see how foundations can invest in communities in innovative ways to support organizational capacity, cross-sector partnerships, and implementation of community-led ideas.
We see in the next five years more communities, foundations, hospitals and health systems, public health departments, payers, businesses, and others, working together to create a better tomorrow.
These anchors will guide our strategy and implementation as we look ahead to the next five years and consider what is possible. We will continue to contribute to this future state, and we are already looking ahead and planning, plotting, and persevering, so we can rise and meet the challenges of tomorrow. Five years from now, we will live in a world in which more people have the opportunity to reach their best level of health. This vision is the north star that we must all aspire to, for working together is the only way we can attempt to reach this goal. It is the shared vision that can unify all of us who seek to improve health in America.
We hope that you and many others across sectors share this vision with us. Are you ready to BUILD with us?