How Can We Build Community Alliances?
Build alliances with community partners to protect against risk and build community power (Read actions you can take below)
Health departments play a convening role that can be used to advance health equity. Community partners and the health department can develop alliances or networks that collectively and powerfully advance equity by increasing awareness, advocating for policy and systems change, and ensuring accountability.
These formal or informal alliances — led by the department or by the community — can protect the health department from the political risk or pushback invariably associated with advancing equity. The department can create a “base” of community support that can advocate on its behalf to elected officials or other leaders who are questioning the department’s work. Additionally, these alliances showcase a wide demand and interest from the public, helping the health department to expand the boundaries of its work beyond traditional public health activities.
Case studies that build community alliances
Actions to Advance Equity Using This Practice
Your leadership, staff, and department can take the following actions to build community alliances:
- Leverage health department resources, power, and data to protect communities against risk (e.g. from deportation, discrimination, environmental injustices, poor working conditions) and build community power through capacity building, leadership development, and resource allocation
- Identify, support, and work collaboratively with the leadership of grassroots and civic organizations whose activities and campaigns advance health equity
- Ask communities to identify health indicators they want to target and the measures of progress that will be meaningful to them in achieving health equity
- Include voices of the people experiencing health inequities in all stages of program and policy development and create meaningful opportunities for community engagement and evaluation
- Enhance residents’ capacity to conduct and analyze their own research, identify levers of power, develop policy strategies, and evaluate their impact
- Practice transparency with communities around agency needs and priorities, and invest resources to build strong and trusting relationships with community partners
- Create a “base” of community support that can advocate on the health department’s behalf when elected officials or other leaders question the department’s work