Community health improvement strategies depend on community partners that are equipped with the knowledge, skills, resources, and commitment necessary to achieve the project objectives. Research and experience show that many community strategies fall short because these elements are not in place. Almost all community strategies require some type of capacity building to assure that all partners are ready and able to execute as intended. Community Health Solutions provides a proven framework for supporting community capacity building.
1. Assess Readiness
The first step is to assess the readiness of community partners to execute the strategy. Key questions to consider for each community partner include:
- Are leaders of the partner organization committed to the project?
- Does the partner organization have the knowledge, skills, and resources to execute their responsibilities?
- Does the partner organization have any strategic or operational challenges that could raise obstacles to execution?
- Is the partner organization willing to engage in capacity building for the initiative?
2. Define Capacity Building Needs
The second step is to define capacity building needs based on the results of the readiness assessment. Capacity building needs may include policy changes, practice changes, system changes, and culture changes in addition to staffing, financing, equipment, and space. It is important to specify these capacity needs in detail at the outset of the initiative, and revisit capacity needs throughout the course of implementation.
3. Provide Capacity Building Supports
Capacity building supports typically include some combination of training, tools, technical assistance, and funding. Often overlooked, but perhaps most important, is the opportunity for community partners to routinely exchange perspectives on how the project is working in terms of the vision, mission, goals, objectives, challenges, breakthroughs, communications, and culture of collaboration. We call these strategic learning sessions, and it is this kind of dialog that creates a shared commitment to project success, making it possible to optimize capacity building and overall project performance.
4. Provide Ongoing Performance Support
Once an strategic initiative is underway, it is important to obtain routine feedback from partners to assure that the project is going well. It is often the case that community partners need ongoing performance support (training, technical assistance, etc) to assure effective implementation of their components of the project. Strategic learning sessions are essential for surfacing challenges that may be remedied with focused performance supports.
How We Can Help
Community Health Solutions has extensive experience in capacity building for community health projects. We provide strategic advice, facilitation support, and custom tools for assessing readiness and defining capacity building needs. We also provide a proven model for capacity building and ongoing performance support. Our Community Learning Networks are specially designed to deliver these supports for community projects involving multiple organizations.