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More Musings on Community Transformation Grants June 1, 2011

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In my last post I told you about the upcoming Community Transformation Grants. (http://www.cdc.gov/communitytransformation/)

Here are some of my thoughts as I’ve listened and read about what people are saying on this topic:

This is the largest amount of $ we have seen for community prevention in a very long time– over $100 million next year and potentially $900 million over the next five years. So everyone is drooling.

Thanks goes to the Obama Administration for proposing it and to all who lobbied this through despite opposition.

But it is over promised and over committed money. All kinds of federal programs that are facing cut backs are being told that this single pot of $ is going to be their savior. This includes: substance abuse prevention programs, tobacco prevention programs, health disparity programs, food and fitness programs, and all programs funded under the Recovery Act. Clearly there will be winners and losers. So watching and influencing the process at the state level will be crucial.

Now comes the hard part. With only 75 entities to be funded we can be pretty sure that all 50 states will apply and will likely end up being 2/3 of the awardees.

So what is happening in the states? How much input are the state health departments and public health departments getting?  Will they look all across their states at the most successful programs addressing the needs in the RfP or will they choose to mainly include their own department funded programs that are facing budget cuts due to fewer state dollars.

Will the programs that get included address the needs of communities of color and other communities experiencing health inequities?  Will the voice of those most affected by the issues be included in the application? Usually we apply first, state our priorities, and then invite the community in later after we get funding. Will the process be different this time?

If these grants are to live up to their name of “Community Transformation”  and really transform communities (a bold stroke right there) they will need to look like the best community prevention programs that we have seen in recent years.

These exemplars are based on a healthy community model that requires:

serious community engagement and community power,

support of a broad community coalition

understanding health from a Social Determinants of Health perspective

aiming to create systems and policy change

addressing issues of social justice

shifting  from social service to social change models

Some resources that you may find helpful:

Building a Regional Health Equity Model from the Boston Public Health Commission


A recent Tom Wolff & Associates Collaborative Solutions Newsletter https://www.tomwolff.com/collaborative-solutions-newsletter-summer-10.htm#center

The Community Tool Box – always a great resource http://ctb.ku.edu

And of course : The Power of Collaborative Solutions  www.tomwolff.com

Please share with all of us what you are seeing in your community? Your state? Add your comments above.

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Community Transformation Grants Are Here at Last May 17, 2011

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New healthy community funding is  now available – check this out.

This announcement just came across my desk:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced the availability of over $100 million in funding for up to 75 Community Transformation Grants. Created by the Affordable Care Act, these grants are aimed at helping communities implement projects proven to reduce chronic disease, violence and injury, and improve mental health and equity. It is noteworthy that, this round of funding increases the grant cycle to a five-year period ($900 million), which will allow communities more time to tailor and implement strategies, engage communities and ultimately shift norms around healthy eating and physical activity. It will also engage multiple sectors, encouraging community-based organizations, local and state governments to work together to build sustainable, effective change. This funding cycle emphasizes health equity, with specific outcomes geared towards improving health among those who face the greatest disparities, along with resources dedicated directly towards building capacity.

The language in the CDC announcement http://www.cdc.gov/communitytransformation/ suggests that the purpose of the CTG grants is to create healthier communities by 1) building capacity to implement broad evidence and practice-based policy, environmental, programmatic and infrastructure changes, as appropriate, in large counties and in states, tribes and territories, including in rural and frontier areas and 2) supporting implementation of such interventions in five strategic areas….and demonstrate progress in the following performance measures…1) changes in weight, 2) changes in proper nutrition, 3) changes in physical activity, 4)changes in tobacco use prevalence, 5) changes in emotional well being and overall mental health changes…

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New Newsletter Available: Thriving and Surviving Devastating Funding Cuts May 3, 2011

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A new issue of our Collaborative Solutions Newsletter has just hit the web. This issue is entitled: “Thriving and Surviving Devastating Funding Cuts: Collaboration and Community Building as the Answer – Part One of Survival Tips”

The issue covers:

The present crisis

Time for a new approach: Collaboration, community building and systems change.

Four specific strategies

Focus on sustaining what you have developed

Engage the people in the community and build their support for your efforts

What is new at TW & Associates

Take a look  HERE and let us know what you think

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Great New Resource on Health Equity April 25, 2011

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Health equity is the hot new topic of interest – it is one of the four top goals of HHS’ Healthy People 2020. However many groups approach this critical topic with limited vision. Not so the article entitled “Building a Regional Health Equity Movement: The grantmaking model of a local health department” (click for full article HERE).

This fascinating article describes the work of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Office of Health Equity and Social Justice. They take a broad social determinants approach to reduce racial and ethnic inequities that is based on overtly addressing racism, building local coalitions, community engagement for those most affected by the issues, moving from social services to social change  and focusing on policy change.

Seeing is believing – read the article and let me know what you think by clicking on Add a Comment above. Thanks

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Look at what’s in this month’s APA Monitor April 12, 2011

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I was very pleased to see that the April 2011 issue of the American Psychological Association Monitor (their trade news magazine that goes to all ….. members) featured  an article entitled “Bringing Communities Together”  which looks at my coalition and community building work. Often when you talk to reporters you are not too sure what will emerge. In this case Kirsten Weir did a great job in taking a long rambling interview and consolidating it into a brief engaging story. Take a look and let me know what you think….


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The Reviews Are Starting to Come In April 4, 2011

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When you have a book published like The Power of Collaborative Solutions it is so hard to know what people actually think of it . So it is fun when the reviews finally start to come in.  I am pleased to be able to share with you some of the new reviews of my book that have been emerging in recent issues of professional journals:

Bill Berkowitz in the January 2011 issue of The National Civic Review

“Tom Wolff’s The Power of Collaborative Solutions does in fact give us something different and new, in two major respects; one in its practical teaching, the other in its specific content. Both are distinctive, making this book well worth the attention of any community or civic affairs leader”

For full review:HERE

Adrienne Paine Andrews in the January 2010 issue of the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice  www.gjcpp.org

“Tom Wolff provides a passionate and convincing case for using collaborative approaches to address our most intractable community problems. He offers personal reflection, case studies and tools based on his extensive experience to help us move toward more effective, sustainable, and collaborative solutions.”

Full review HERE

Brad Olsen in the April 2011 Issue of The Community Psychologist

“The book is filled with tips, theoretical orientations, and practical tools. One regularly encounters sections of the text and says, “Yes, I’ll have to try that in my next dialogue with X organization. That could be useful.

Full Review HERE


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Is your community happy? stressed? Find out here. March 24, 2011

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Check out this amazing website from the NY Times where you can discover relative levels of happiness, stress, obesity, job satisfaction, community satisfaction, etc by Congressional District. A fun and very useful  site.


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Thich Nhat Hanh’s message for Japan March 18, 2011

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Thich Nhat Hanh’s Message to Japan

Dear friends in Japan,

As we contemplate the great number of people who have died in this tragedy, we may feel very strongly that we ourselves, in some part or manner, also have died.

The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. And the human species and the planet Earth are one body. What happens to one part of the body happens to the whole body.

An event such as this reminds us of the impermanent nature of our lives. It helps us remember that what’s most important is to love each other, to be there for each other, and to treasure each moment we have that we are alive. This is the best that we can do for those who have died: we can live in such a way that they continue, beautifully, in us.

Here in France and at our practice centers all over the world, our brothers and sisters will continue to chant for you, sending you the energy of peace, healing and protection. Our prayers are with you.

Thich Nhat Hanh

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What are we thinking? $44 billion in cuts to the vulnerable vs. $42 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy March 17, 2011

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Here is a great chart that compares $44 billion in cuts to services for the most vulnerable Americans including early childhood, job training, heating assistance, community health centers, low income housing , WIC against $42 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. What are people thinking? Or are they?


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Jamaica Plain Youth Health Equity Coalition Report March 10, 2011

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For the last few years I have the honor, pleasure and challenge of working with the Boston Public Health Commission’s Office of Health Equity and Social Justice on their racial health equity programs. http://www.bphc.org/chesj/Pages/default.aspx

Specifically I have been the coalition building, community development consultant to about a dozen of the community sites that they have funded.

The Jamaica Plain Youth Health Equity Collaborative http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=193620544737 has been an especially active and productive coalition. The Jamaica Plain Youth Health Equity Collaborative, a group of youth, health care, housing, education, and youth serving organizations, met for over a year to look at six social determinants of health areas or BUCKETS that impact young people who live, work, and play in Jamaica Plain. The six determinants were housing, education, employment, health care, food and fitness and safety.

Out of this work emerged the Jamaica Plain Youth Report. http://www.bphc.org/chesj/resources/Documents/Reports/JP%20Report.pdf

Each section of the report addresses one of the buckets (social determinants of health) and includes material generated by the young people themselves that cover:

–         A real youth experience of life in JP (names have been changed)

–         Data that supports the real experiences of youth in JP

–         A connection to health outcomes and systemic/institutional racism identified by the youth

–         A list of local organizations where good work on this issue is being done

–         Suggestions for action

The report was written for the youth of the community. The cover of the report has a picture of a “Teeny” which is a drink that is very available in the JP stores that cater to JP’s African American and Latino communities. The main characteristic of a Teeny is that it is 100% full of nothing that is good for you (mainly sugar, flavoring, water and coloring). It is usually replaced by real juice in the stores in the more affluent White parts of JP. It is thus a great symbol of the social determinants of health. Under the picture of the Teeny on the cover it says “If you know what this is, this report if for YOU”

The report was mainly the creative work of Meghan Wood (megleewood@gmail.com).

Check it out  – it is an impressive and engaging product and can be an inspiration for other communities.


They hope that in the hands of young people, their families, and the organizations that serve them, this report will aid in the fight to create a more equitable JP and Boston.

I have been inspired by the work of the JP Youth Health Equity Collaborative and their leader, Abigail Ortiz, and you will too. Take a look and then let us know what you think. Could you do something like this your community? COMMENT HERE.

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