How to Collaborate?
There are resources on collaboration that are available.
The following is an example of a collaborative approach engaging a national partner with local community partners. Excerpts are taken from the article “The YMCA/Steps Community Collaboratives,” 2004-2008.
The YMCA/Steps Community Collaboratives
This four year collaborative (2004 – 2008) was formed between the YMCA of the USA and Steps to a Healthier US. The purpose of the partnership was to improve health at the local levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided technical assistance.
YMCAs serve more than 10 million youth through their after-school programs and youth oriented activities and 21 million people in total. Steps to a Healthier US (Steps Program) is a community health initiative that is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services and is coordinated by the CDC. The Steps Program’s focus is on preventing the major causes for death and disability such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. In 2004, there were 40 funded Steps communities. These Step communities began to address health disparities and to develop and implement plans to improve community health care and prevention. That same year the Steps Program selected YMCA of the US to partner with to help increase the impact of their programs through their Activate America program, which was already addressing health concerns in local communities. Through the partnership, the Steps Program awarded the YMCA of the US $2 million over four years to build relationships between YMCA and the 40 Steps communities. Each year YMCAs could apply for mini grants to work with a Steps community to form a partnership called YMCA/Step Community Collaborative. These collaboratives were in turn able to focus on local public health needs and other issues such as school nutrition, physical education, walking and biking trails. They were able to pull in local resources and work collaboratively with local government to address health related policies and programs that were offered through parks and recreation departments.
In the final year of the collaborative, a qualitative assessment was conducted. Representatives from the forty community collaboratives were surveyed. The survey results reflected that the project resulted in positive policy changes at worksites, schools, and state or recreation agencies. Accomplishments of the collaborative included more nutritious food at YMCAs, day care centers, schools, and recreation centers; after-school programs incorporated more health promotions; and health care systems were connected to the YMCA and community efforts. System changes were made that now support public health efforts to establish wellness and health opportunities at the community level.
Although as separate organizations, both YMCAs and Steps communities had both been successful, the partnership results were magnified.1