Enhancing Equity Through Community Engagement

The Center for Community Health Alignment (CCHA) was recently awarded the Aligning Systems for Health (Health Care + Public Health + Social Services) grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The purpose of the project is to explore how we can promote true community engagement and fair decision-making. In partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the Arnold School of Public Health’s Core for Applied Research and Evaluation, we are committed to learning about true community engagement in efforts to better understand effective cross-sector alignment of health care, public health and social services  to advance health equity.

WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THE PROJECT ?

The goal of this community engagement project is to find ways to promote input from community members in making decisions about health care, public health, and social services. This research will help the Center for Community Health Alignment and our partners learn how to engage community residents and how to have true, fair community engagement.

HOW WILL THE PROJECT WORK ?

We have partnered with a few communities in South Carolina. Community Health Workers (CHWs) will lead efforts as community-based researchers. CHWs are trusted members of the community and know the areas in which they serve. They will lead talks with residents about how they would like to join in making decisions that affect their community. Community residents who take part will be invited back to verify findings, talk about themes, and develop conclusions. Individuals who participate will be given a gift card in exchange for sharing their knowledge and ideas with our team.

Our project is short term, but our goal is to use the information that we learn to help systems and organizations engage with communities and their leaders in a more meaningful way. We plan to learn from and with community organizations to build better strategies and tools that will help to make system changes to better serve communities.

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE ?

We have partnered with a few communities in South Carolina. Community Health Workers (CHWs) will lead efforts as community-based researchers. CHWs are trusted members of the community and know the areas in which they serve. They will lead talks with residents about how they would like to join in making decisions that affect their community. Community residents who take part will be invited back to verify findings, talk about themes, and develop conclusions. Individuals who participate will be given a gift card in exchange for sharing their knowledge and ideas with our team.

Our project is short term, but our goal is to use the information that we learn to help systems and organizations engage with communities and their leaders in a more meaningful way. We plan to learn from and with community organizations to build better strategies and tools that will help to make system changes to better serve communities.

HOW WILL INFORMATION FROM COMMUNITIES BE USED ?

  • We hope our findings will help us learn how to promote meaningful community engagement. We also hope our findings will help address issues such as access to healthcare, education, safe housing & neighborhoods, transportation, and job opportunities. 

–This will include developing trainings for communities and organizations focused on capacity building and sharing the community wisdom learned through this project.

–There will also be opportunities for individuals from the community to co-develop and co-lead trainings

  • We will share a summary of what we learn and co-develop with each partnering community.
  • The final research findings will be shared with all project participants, partnering communities, funders, and other partners & key stakeholders, and have the potential to ultimately improve how community engagement is done in our state and beyond.

WANT TO PARTICIPATE ?

Do you want to share your ideas and voice the needs and concerns of your community? Do you live in North Columbia, Spartanburg, Orangeburg County or Darlington County? The information shared will be used topromote true, fair community engagement. To learn more about the project or how to participate, please contact Kim Rawlinson at (803) 646-2056 or comerkd@mailbox.sc.edu

Funding Acknowledgement: This project is funded through Aligning Systems for Health, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation