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Foundation Operations: Grantmaking-> Working with Communities

Are there examples of foundation-sponsored convenings that have led to partnerships?

Foundations often convene community residents to promote collaboration around a specific issue or goal. While these convenings can be valuable as one-time events to share information and knowledge, in some cases they have served as starting points for lasting partnerships and multifaceted collaborations. Examples of foundation-sponsored convenings that have resulted in ongoing partnerships, and even new organizations, are provided below.

The Consumer Health Foundation (CHF) funded a series of health care symposia in its service area to engage residents, health care providers, and policymakers in a dialogue aimed at increasing the quality, quantity, and accessibility of health care in the community. One result of these symposia was the creation of a partnership between health care activities and those working toward economic development. Recognizing the interconnectedness of place and health, this partnership worked to design and implement new health care strategies for community clinics and local health care providers. CHF has also helped form, support, and staff a number of regional alliances of activists, providers, consumers, public health officials, and funders. For example, to reduce disparities within the area's primary care safety net, the Regional Primary Care Conversation was formed, with participants meeting every two months. The group is comprised of key individuals working in primary care associations, coalitions, public health agencies, and funders. Other plans include a workshop in spring 2004 to help educate and build political will in the region around reducing health disparities.

In 2002 the Birmingham Foundation gathered grantees whose services helped seniors remain safe and independent in their own homes. This gathering evolved into the South Pittsburgh Coalition for Housing Services, which continues to meet regularly to work on effective services and includes nearly 20 organizations. The foundation also helped to create The Hilltop Community Healthcare Partnership, which is working toward the creation of a health care and community center.

The Saint Luke's Foundation of Cleveland, Ohio funded the Mt. Pleasant Comprehensive Community Initiative, a community development initiative focused on economic development, social well-being, safety, education, community revitalization, health care, and communications. The foundation called together stakeholders in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, including residents, business owners, and public and private institutional leaders, to form a community planning council. The council was charged with developing a strategic plan for community revitalization and growth that was comprehensive, multifaceted, asset based, and focused on capacity building. Throughout 2000, members of the council gathered and analyzed data to inform the process. More than 300 residents gathered for a community visioning summit in February 2000 and identified the focus areas for community building. In May 2000, more than 150 people came together for an action planning summit to refine the agenda and establish strategic directions as priorities in all program areas: economic opportunity, educational opportunity, physical environment, and community and family empowerment. These efforts led to the creation of a nonprofit entity, The Collaborative for Organizing Mount Pleasant, to implement and coordinate the work of the plan, evaluate progress and results, and raise funds needed to carry out the plan.


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