COALITIONS AND COMMUNITY HEALTH ASSETS AS A CORE THEME
Extension has a long and rich history of engaging in partnerships with schools, government agencies, and various community-based organizations to support the delivery of programs. The 2014 framework identified partnership development as a key component in
advancing Cooperative Extension’s health -related work and suggested a number of potential partners with whom Cooperative Extension might engage. However,
it stopped short of defining Extension’s role in promoting, establishing, and providing support for community coalitions that provide access to a broader spectrum of community assets. It is through these coalitions that Cooperative Extension and the community together can identify key inequities, and the social determinants of health that underlie them. The Ingredients of Equitable Development Planning
Community coalitions that focus on health equity are typically made up of representatives of health and human service providers who engage with racially and ethnically diverse communities in meaningful and significant ways (Anderson et al., 2015). They can be venues for power sharing, collaboration, and group decision- making, and advance Cooperative Extension’s commitment to improving health equity. A community coalition, however, differs from an interagency council that only includes representatives of
organizations which serve a particular neighborhood or group of individuals. Community coalitions also include active participation from individuals with lived experience in that community. Extension has extensive experience in mobilizing community action around a wide array of community issues including health equity (Buys & Koukel, 2018). Cooperative Extension can play many different roles within community coalitions, moving in and out of these roles as appropriate. These roles include convening, facilitating, managing, supporting, resourcing, and leading. Perhaps Cooperative Extension’s most significant
role in a coalition is to connect the community to the knowledge and resources of the broader university. Additionally, Extension is well positioned to facilitate an intergenerational dimension to a coalition by bringing young people to the table as full partners in all phases of the coalition’s work. For Extension, being an effective coalition member involves moving back and forth between being a teacher and learner, at times serving as a source of expert-based knowledge, but also listening and learning from the other voices at the table.
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