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CHW Health Disparities Initiative

1.6 Work with Partners

Have you thought about how to find partners who can help you develop and run a heart health program that can be sustained over time?

Toolkit Tip

Be sure to thank and recognize your partners regularly.

A partner is a person or organization working with you to achieve a common goal.

Use the links below to find and work with partners:

Partnership Benefits and Examples

With partners, you can do more than you can on your own. This can mean doing more with your program without always needing to find more money. It can also mean being able to do activities that you might not have been able to do otherwise.

In many cases, partners provide money and in-kind support. This might include donations, equipment, services, and/or space. Often, partners will provide you with something that you do not already have in good supply.

Examples from the Field

The Phoenix Housing Authority partnered with Arizona State University’s School of Social Work. The social work students taught heart health sessions to housing and community residents. It became a partnership where social work students learned while working in communities.

Here are some examples of what partners might provide:

Toolkit Tip

It’s not always about funding; it’s about champions and people in the communities who want to make a difference.

  • Reports or information about the needs of your community;
  • Space for you to hold heart health program, exercise classes, or screenings;
  • Program support, such as helping you run the program, help with grant writing, and training;
  • Technical support, like helping to set up equipment;
  • Gym membership that is free or discounted;
  • Health models, such as a model showing the levels of salt in food;
  • A chef, nutritionist, or dietitian who provides free cooking classes;
  • Publicity to help you recruit people to your program or to spread heart health messages;
  • Transportation or child care to make it easier for people in your program to participate in a program;
  • Other staff members or volunteers to help with your program at any level;
  • Evaluation support for your program; and
  • Items to give away.

Examples from the Field

Here are some ways that organizations have developed successful partnerships:

  • The Phoenix Housing Authority partnered with the local Center of African American Health. This center assists with recruiting community health workers (CHWs) and community program participants and facilitates With Every Heartbeat Is Life heart health sessions.
  • The Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center is partnering with the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., Arizona Community Health Workers’ Outreach Network, Mariposa Community Health Center, and Arizona Prevention Research Center at the University of Arizona. Together, these agencies will recruit, train, and support 60 community health representatives (CHRs), 60 CHWs, and groups of Master Trainers. This will build a statewide infrastructure for each agency and CHW/CHR to share accomplishments, challenges, and lessons learned. Working with Latino and American Indian organizations, CHWs, CHRs, and community partners can identify cross-population strategies and specific strategies for different cultures.
  • The Fayetteville Housing Authority has built partnerships with universities, volunteer programs, and a computer center where they can now teach their participants how to use new technology.

Partnerships can be informal. This is where you work with another organization or business without having a formal agreement. An example of an informal partnership is working with a local store that lets you set up a table every Thursday evening to do blood pressure screenings.

Partnerships can also be formal. This is where you both sign an agreement whether there is money involved or not. An example of a formal partnership is working with another organization to write a grant to add physical activities to your heart health program. Both organizations will share the funding and be responsible for running the program.

Who Are Possible Partners?

Anyone who has an interest in working with your program is a possible partner. Partners might include people, organizations, or businesses that

  • Already work with your organization in other ways;
  • Already said that they would like to work with you;
  • Address heart health-related issues with the same people as you do or at the state or national level;
  • Already work on health-related issues and can expand to include heart health sessions;
  • Consider heart health one of the most important issues in the community;
  • Fill a need that you have identified (e.g., child care or exercise space);
  • Have trained CHWs who might be looking for a great job or to be trained to use your heart health materials;
  • Provide funding, such as foundations or federal agencies;
  • Conduct other training or job placement; or
  • Can offer gift cards or other incentives for people in your program.

How to Approach Possible Partners

Put together some talking points that you can use when approaching possible partners. Talking points are a list of important points and requests that you want to make about your heart health program. Commonly, talking points briefly describe

  • Your organization (e.g., its mission, the communities that it serves) and its dedication to heart health,
  • Your heart health program and its need,
  • How a partner can benefit your program,
  • How a partner benefits from the relationship, and
  • Your heart health success stories.

To better understand talking points, take a look at the example below, which shows how a housing program used talking points to reach out to a potential partner:

“Our housing program has three sites with a total of 300 residents. We recently developed a program to help residents learn about heart health. We are doing this because over 60% of residents over the age of 25 smoke. We will use materials developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). If there is enough interest, we also plan to start ‘Stop Smoking Support Groups’ and fun dance classes."

“Three residents at each of our sites have already received training on the NHLBI manual. They will be the ones to teach sessions and run the activities. We are looking for someone with experience to co-teach the sessions with them. If possible, we hope to find someone who has gone through the process of giving up smoking."

“We would like to invite your clients to participate in our heart healthy program.”

You can also use some of the points in Evaluation Report Executive Summary pdf document icon (PDF, 423 KB) to develop talking points.

Once you have talking points, meet with your potential partners. Explain what you are doing—the talking points will help get them involved with what you are doing. Then listen to your potential partner to see how they think that they can help.

Always make sure to follow up with possible and current partners. A “thank you” can go a long way.

How to Work with Partners and Maintain Partnerships

Having successful partnerships means working closely with your partners. It also means paying attention to them. Make sure you do the following:

  • Communicate. Make sure that they know how they can reach you. Reply to them as quickly as you can. Be as clear and concise as possible. Keep the channels of communication open. Make contact on a regular basis to keep them engaged.
  • Say, “Thank you.” Let your partners know when things are going well. Thank them for being your partner. Ask them if you have their permission to thank them in public. If you have it, you can do this at a community meeting, on the radio, or at an event.
  • Return the favor. Try to see what you can give back to your partners. Some ideas follow:
    • Be guest speakers in each other’s programs.
    • Send a thank-you letter that they can use for a tax deduction.
    • Go out into the community together to recruit people into programs that you are both doing.

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Next: 1.7 Evaluate Your Program