Equity through Meaningful Community Engagement

EMCE (Equity through Meaningful Community Engagement) is helping bridge the assets, knowledge and resources of communities, organizations and systems. CCHA is advancing meaningful community engagement strategies and co-creating innovative models to help communities lead decision-making and change efforts in their communities. We also assists organizations in gaining a deeper knowledge and practice of meaningful community engagement.

Kim Rawlinson on Cross-Sector Collaboration

What do we mean by meaningful community engagement? Watch this short video to learn more.

CCHA seeks to engage and empower communities by:

  • Developing, co-creating, and testing innovative approaches to address inequalities and enhance authentic community engagement with communities through the creation of resources;
  • Bridging the assets, knowedge, and resources of communities, organizations, and systems to better understand and address inequities through processes such as research, evaluation, and other consensus building activities; and
  • Building the capacity of organizations to ensure that interactions with communities are meaningful and equitable and that community members are better equipped to advocate for their communities

CCHA works to advance equity through community engagement initiatives with a variety of organizations and community members. Several of these initiatives have included:


The learnings gained from the Enhancing Equity in Cross-Sector Alignment Through Meaningful Community Engagement research project have led us our current focus on the following activities and initiatives:


  • Community Engagement Academy: CCHA piloted the Prioritizing Long-lasting Actionable Community Engagement & Equity (P.L.A.C.E.) Academy on March 28 and 29, 2024 in Columbia, SC. The academy provides a unique opportunity designed to equip participants with effective strategies on how to engage communities in a meaningful and intentional manner in an effort to address inequities. This program builds the capacity and equips community leaders/influencers, organizational leaders, researchers, funders, and other interested stakeholders with the skills and practical tools needed to do their work more effectively. The academy includes 4 main topic areas: (1) Meaningful Community Engagement, (2) Trust Building, (3) How to Effectively Engage the Community, and (4) Equity in Action.
  • Assessment Tool: CCHA has developed a meaningful community engagement assessment tool for organizations that desire to improve how they engage with the communities they serve.  This tool assists in assessing strategies currently being utilized and identify areas where changes/shifts may need to be made. This tool was piloted at the PLACE Academy in March 2024.

Next Steps:

  • Pilot Evaluation Feedback: Those who participated in the pilot P.L.A.C.E. Academy provided detailed feedback via an evaluation survey and brief interviews. Overall, the feedback was great but suggestions for improvements were shared. The team is reviewing the feedback and is working to incorporate it into the academy’s curriculum and meaningful community engagement assessment tool.
  • After the updates are made, the team would like to pilot the P.L.A.C.E. Academy with the target audience for the curriculum, organizational leaders.
  • The team is actively exploring funding opportunities to expand the P.L.A.C.E. academy regionally in South Carolina.