NEW Guidance for Potential Applicants: Community Capacity Building

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EHF has identified Community Capacity Building (CCB) as a key focus area for our work.  We offer the following guidance as a preview of how we hope to work with you to make an impact in the communities you serve. These are not exclusive guidelines, and we hope to learn together throughout this process.

If you see alignment with your work and you would like to discuss your ideas with a member of our staff, please send us an email. You are also welcome to move forward without staff consultation and download and submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) to us by April 18, 2017. If your LOI is approved, you’ll be invited to complete the full application process. That completed application is due June 16, 2017 with funding decisions anticipated at the EHF Board meeting on September 19, 2017.

Click here to download a PDF/printable version of this guide

Our Commitment
People live in communities. But the real importance of “living in community” is that people—and groups of people—develop the ways and means to care for each other, to nurture the talents and leadership that enhance the quality of community life, and to address the challenges that threaten the community and the opportunities that can help it flourish. We believe that community capacity building makes that possible.

Communities with capacity are confident, organized and cohesive. Most importantly, these communities welcome the most excluded groups into the fabric of society so that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy a better quality of life.  Members of these communities can deal with challenges by bringing them to the attention of those with the ability to respond, co-creating ways to meet the challenges, carrying out agreed upon plans of action, all the while supporting each other along the way.

Our Context - the Episcopal Diocese of Texas
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas (EDOT) includes 57 counties within central, east and southeast Texas. Within these counties there are 10.7 million people living in rural and dense urban areas. Many of the counties are home to high numbers of children and adults living in poverty. Many families lack access to insurance and quality healthcare, and experience poor health outcomes (click here for data on county health). Yet, the promise of these counties lies within their varied assets.

From the piney woods of east Texas, across the green spaces of the Hill Country of central Texas, to the upper Gulf Coast and Matagorda, our experience in meeting and learning from residents in the cities, towns and rural communities in these regions provides a glimpse into the energy, pride and enthusiasm they have for their communities. They possess the wherewithal to engage in community capacity building. Most communities have assets like human capital, facilities, libraries, governance structures, community-based organizations, institutions of higher learning, and many others that can be leveraged to strengthen the capacity of that community to foster and sustain positive change.

Our Priorities - Community Capacity Building 
EHF believes that everyone is entitled to good health, not just healthcare. Community capacity building recognizes that strategies can be more effective and sustainable if they go beyond the traditional boundaries of a clinic or other healthcare institution. When we work beyond these boundaries, there is potential to build individual skills, strengthen community action, and empower organizations to create and support sustainable healthy behaviors and environments.

Through its grantmaking, EHF seeks to support work that instills values and skills for collaboration, develops civic agency, and facilitates transformative community partnerships in furtherance of our vision for healthy communities for all.

EHF’s priorities for community capacity building include:

  • Building and sustaining partnerships, collaborations and networks among community-based organizations to improve community health
  • Engagement with individual community members to support their partnerships to improve community health.

There are many approaches that can build capacity in a community, so it may be helpful to think in terms of the outcomes of the work.

The Aspen Institute identifies eight outcomes of community capacity building, all of which are of interest to EHF:

  • Expanding diverse inclusive community participation
  • Expanding the leadership base
  • Strengthening individual skills
  • Encouraging a shared understanding and vision
  • Developing a strategic community agenda
  • Facilitating consistent, tangible progress toward goals
  • Creating effective community organizations and institutions
  • Promoting resource utilization by the community [1]

Additional outcomes of community capacity building of interest to EHF include[2]:

  • Enhancing community decision-making and problem solving processes
  • Implementing practical strategies for creating change
  • Promoting inclusion and social justice

Examples of community capacity building approaches that EHF has supported to date include:

  • Supporting an indigenous lead organization that is already pursuing a locally-defined community change agenda
  • Supporting new community intermediaries, collaboratives or coalitions with significant responsibilities for stakeholder engagement and strategy development
  • Working directly as a convener in a community where EHF establishes direct and intensive relationships with one or more communities

The outcomes, processes and approaches are presented for you to consider as you plan your community capacity building work. Thank you for your interest in EHF and our Community Capacity Building Strategy. We look forward to working with and learning from you as you begin our application process.

[1] The Aspen Institute, 1996, Measuring Community Capacity Building: A Workbook-in Progress for Rural Communities, Washington: The Aspen Institute

[2] Craig, G., 2007, Community capacity-building: Something old, something new… Critical Social Policy, 27, 335-359