Fall 2022 Funded Partner Convening – The Why, What & How of Collaboration

The Foundation for a Healthy High Point invests in multiple projects and organizations to tackle some of the big health challenges we face as a community. At the Fall 2022 Funded Partner Convening, Foundation executive director Curtis Holloman described the importance of collaboration as one of its funding priorities to achieve better health.

“We are looking at how we can support effective collaboration that will make a difference,” he told more than 60 representatives of currently funded groups. “We know that while we may work individually in our organizations, it is the work that we do jointly and in partnership that’s going to have a greater impact.”

The Foundation for a Healthy High Point has adopted a Strategic Direction that includes collaboration as one of its priorities in its plans to support health improvement. Specifically, the Foundation seeks to fund collaborative efforts including multiple organizations that aim to positively affect social determinants of health in Greater High Point.

Dr. Elliott Williams, chair of the Foundation board of directors, welcomed attendees and described the Foundation’s recently launched strategic direction, which focuses on social drivers of health. “We realized we could have a larger impact addressing health and health outcomes if we move ‘upstream,’” noted Dr. Williams, “such as addressing housing, transportation, and economic mobility.”


Challenges and opportunities
Dynamic speakers included Chris Thompson, President of Civic Collaboration Consultants, LLC, who is a national expert in helping communities design, implement, and sustain cross-sector collaborations. Engaging workshops also confronted issues that can cause collaborations to fail and how to avoid those pitfalls.

“I made really good new connections and have already followed up with several people. I think the collaboration workshop was very good and I will use some of the information shared when working with potential community partners.”
                                                                                                          — Fall 2022 Convening participant

Victor Isler, the assistant county manager for successful people for Guilford County, underscored the need for collaboration across systems and the county. He encouraged attendees to consider:

“How do we move forward and think about this on a macro and system-level, promoting community resiliency and come together under that shared meaning?

Where are there opportunities to collaborate and partner where the ground is ready, the resistance is not there, the opportunity is there, and you can leverage that partnership with that fellow community-based organization or local municipality?”


Why “upstream”?
Whitney Davis, Foundation program officer, moderated a panel that explored reasons why looking at the root causes or upstream influences on health can create opportunities for transformational change.

The forthright speakers included Leah Price, founding board member of the Foundation and president, commercial banking and market president for Triad Business Bank; Jeremy Moseley, vice chair of the board of the Foundation and associate vice president of FaithHealth at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist; Dr. Stephen Sills, vice president of the Research, Policy & Impact Center of the National Institute of Minority Economic Development; and Adam Linker, vice president of programs at Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust

“When you address social determinants and you move upstream, it improves overall health and it also addresses health disparities,” Moseley said. “That’s something we have to keep at the forefront in our community because everyone does not have a level playing field when it comes to health.”

“If you want to know the importance of social determinants, you have to look no further than the State Health Improvement Plan. Very little of the state’s plan has to do with just health – it’s child poverty rates, suspension rates, housing, and transportation – things like that rather than just direct health care,” added Linker.


“The Why, What and How of Collaboration”
Chris Thompson described different levels of collaboration and discussed the importance of developing and strengthening five specific foundational skills in order to collaborate well:

  1. building trust
  2. understanding context,
  3. inquiry,
  4. facilitation,
  5. and evaluation.

Attendees challenged old questions that help maintain the status quo and developed new, inspired questions that would shift the way we think about community health challenges. They also explored the key structures for collaboratives to have in place to be successful (or fail).

One attendee noted, “The collaboration workshop provided really good insight on how to collaborate with other organizations within the city, as well as good insight into collaboration overall. We are looking now at potential beneficial collaborations where each organization benefits from partnering.” Most importantly, such collaborations can benefit the whole community.

Mary Herbenick, Director of Guilford Nonprofit Consortium, described how the collaborative of nonprofit organizations fosters mutual assistance to create a more efficient and effective nonprofit sector. The Consortium offers:

  • Opportunities for education, collaboration, networking, and celebration
  • Central resource where you can get questions answered quickly
  • Connections to local experts through consultant network
  • HR, legal, strategic planning, communications/marketing
  • Connections to nonprofit leaders for collaboration & learning
  • Access to free and low-cost training on topics that matter
  • Access to high-value, low-cost academies & institutes
  • Job board to post positions
  • Announcements through listserv (700+ and growing)
  • Support & encouragement when you need it

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