Project Summary

The Administration for Community Living (ACL)’s learning collaborative makes it possible to break down barriers between medical and community services to achieve better care, smarter spending and healthier people.  The learning collaborative is making community organizations better business partners and linking health care and community services to better meet the needs of the people HHS serves.

Project Team

Key Contributors

Marisa Scala-Foley, ACL
Lauren Solkowski, ACL
Tim McNeill (consultant)
The John A. Hartford Foundation
Partners in Care Foundation 
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

Project Details

Thanks to delivery system reform, health-care providers are looking beyond clinical services to address social issues that affect a person’s health, well-being, and the costs and quality of health care. Providers and payers are looking to collaborate with community-based social services providers, especially when it comes to supporting older adults and people with disabilities. However, because they have been largely grant-funded, many community organizations lack the business expertise needed to contract with health systems. With increased opportunities for integrated care under the Affordable Care Act, it is important to bridge the gap between health care and community-based long-term services and supports by preparing community organizations to partner with health-care entities.

The Administration for Community Living recently built a learning collaborative to help community providers enhance their ability to contract with integrated health care entities who are seeking to reduce unnecessary hospital and nursing facility admissions and lower overall health-care costs. Through the collaborative, community providers learn how to build and sell “packages” of services such as nutrition, health promotion programs, transportation and more that meet the needs of health-care providers and of individuals and their families. Community providers can become desirable partners by offering efficiencies that manage and improve services and person-centered planning for older adults and persons with disabilities.

The learning collaborative has proven invaluable in helping community organizations build business capacity and reach their common goal of at least one new contract with an integrated care entity in 2014. The collaborative structure created a dynamic, action-oriented learning system where people shared experiences, strategies, and ideas for building community-based networks. Networks in the collaborative established 15 contracts (with more under negotiation) with health-care entities, targeting thousands of clients and establishing sustainable, cohesive networks of human services providers that add value to delivery system reform efforts.

Additional Information


The HHS Innovates Awards is one of the ways we are building an innovative culture at the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Innovates is a contest that recognizes and rewards action taken on good ideas. To date, HHS employees have submitted nominations of innovations for over 600 exciting new staff-driven innovative projects, and our employees have cast over 60,000 votes to select 42 finalists over seven rounds. This project is one of the finalists of HHS Innovates. Learn more about HHS Innovates.