Understanding Your Community
EHF’s core values guide our work in understanding communities. We believe collaboration should be inclusive of all voices from the institutional leaders in a community to the residents, parents and other community members who have a stake in the health of the community.
As we think about building healthy communities, it helps to understand where we begin. We look at the particular population, the geographic area and identify groups of individuals we are interested in building a relationships with that would form the basis for working together to strengthen our communities. In the survey of congregations EHF conducted in the spring of 2015, we found only 30% of congregations felt they understood the health related needs of their communities well or very well and most expressed a desire to learn more deeply about their community.
Data and Information
Gathering data and information about a particular community is one place to start. EHF has compiled a number of easy-to-use data sources you may find helpful when seeking basic information about a particular community.
Relationship building skills
EHF is also working to identify training opportunities for congregational leaders in practices such as community organizing, asset-based community development, and multicultural communication that can develop skills for building relationships in communities. Keep an eye on the Learning Opportunities page for upcoming events. Contact us if you have a suggestion of a training or event we should recommend.
Accessing and understanding available data on your community
Basic data about the health of a community can provide some perspective on the particular strengths and challenges of a community in general and in relation to other communities in Texas and across the nation. Basic data can provide a starting point for conversations with others in the community. How is your community changing? In what areas is it strong and where does it seem to have gaps and why? For example, if a community has a particularly high infant mortality rate – what might be causing that? Are others in our community aware of this? If so, what efforts are underway to address it and what more could be done?
Sources of data for understanding your community
- EHF has produced County and Children’s Health Snapshots compiling general health-related statistics for the 57 counties in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
- The Episcopal Church provides a tool for studying your congregation and community. On this website, you can enter your congregation’s name and receive a demographic profile for the area within a three-mile radius of your congregation.
- How are the public schools doing in your community? Data on the demographics and performance of the schools in your area can provide an insight into some of the community’s challenges and can be found at the Texas Education Agency’s website. You can also search this school level data in a more user-friendly way using the Texas Tribune's Texas Public Schools Explorer.
- Want more? Community Commons provides a wide variety of data and mapping tools you may find useful.
- Want to explore the estimated food insecurity rates for your city or region? Would you like to download maps of good insecurity by individual political districts? Check out the new data released in the Texas Hunger Map by Feeding Texas.
For the Houston Metropolitan Area:
- The Health of Houston Survey provides neighborhood level data regarding the health needs and conditions of that community. The survey was published in 2010 and researchers are currently planning an updated survey. However, most of the information is still current enough to be useful to explore. Notably, health insurance rates have changed significantly during that time due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, so those numbers are most likely to be dated.
- The Houston-Galveston Area Council has resources addressing mobility, public safety, the environment, emergency and disaster planning and business and economic development.
- The Kinder Institute produces the Houston Area Survey tracking residents perspective on the economy, traffic and ethnic diversity.
For Austin and Central Texas:
The Community Action Network dashboard provides an overview of region-wide data on basic issues like crime, income, food security, health factors and education.