Building Health Coalitions in the Black Community

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Ronald L. Braithwaite, Sandra E. Taylor & John N. Austin

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  • Dedication

    Dedicated to health coalition facilitators everywhere

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    Preface

    The purpose of this book is to highlight issues pertinent to health coalition-building initiatives, particularly as they relate to African American communities. Coalitions, partnerships, alliances, and collaborative linkages designed to confront compelling health problems in African American communities have proliferated during the past 15 years. These efforts have provided a useful methodology for grassroots organizers, as well as health and human service providers, to address the lack of health promotion efforts and health equity in African American communities. Some argue that a thin line exists between individual responsibility and systemic barriers relative to the quality of life in these communities. Those on either side, however, would be hard pressed to deny the positive outcomes that can ensue from discussion on the topic. This book seeks to provide a forum for stimulating such discussions that are useful in coalition building for health promotion.

    The book begins with an historical context for the deployment of coalition partnerships as a change strategy. The book also provides guidelines for those interested in using bottom-up planning approaches to improve the plight of disenfranchised groups. In this sense, it is intended as a resource for enhancing knowledge and understanding about the dynamics of community organization and development in the African American community.

    The development of coalition partnerships has been shown to be a viable strategy toward solving various social problems. For example, a recent large-city effort of government, educational, and corporate entities involved the launching of new opportunities for the continued education of new teenage mothers. Countless other examples indicate the trend toward collaboration in combating existing and potential problems that plague America's communities. Particularly within the African American community, certain social problems—crime, illiteracy, and unemployment are only a few—tend to have a disproportionate effect. Moreover, an array of health problems, including cancer, hypertension, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, and violence, disproportionately affect this population. Coalition partnerships have been viewed by different entities, including the community residents themselves, as a needed strategy toward alleviating human suffering in areas of preventable disease.

    Although it is generally accepted by scholars, health care professionals, and community residents themselves that coalitions hold the key for the development of African American communities, little information is available about the organization of such collaborative efforts. This book attempts to illuminate this situation and discusses guidelines for the development and sustenance of coalitions in these communities. It presents a brief history of collaborative efforts in African American communities and examines privately and federally funded initiatives for health promotion. It also views coalitions in theoretical and applied contexts. Coalition partnerships are discussed in conjunction with the faith community, the combating of substance abuse, environmental threats, and urban/rural settings. The effort borrows from our varied experiences as directors, principal investigators, evaluators, and other roles with community coalitions. It represents a compilation of archival data, oral history and anecdotes, case studies, survey research, and syntheses of parts of the current literature in its development. The terms coalition, partnership, and collaborative efforts are used interchangeably to refer to the coordination of two or more parties' efforts to attain a mutually agreed-on goal.

    Acknowledgments

    We would like to acknowledge the contributions of the numerous colleagues, especially Micky Roberts and Martha Boisseau, who provided conceptual feedback while this manuscript was in the initial phases of development. We also extend our sincere appreciation to graduate students Clark Denny, Leslie Fieldler, Johanna Leffler, Micah Milton, Arian Krause, and Golda Aliza Smith of the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, who generously provided their time in doing library research and contributed significantly to the refinement of the chapters herein. Meg Gwaltney of COSMOS Corporation and David Robbins from the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse Prevention also provided access to national data sets for the chapter on “Coalitions Combating Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use.” We are particularly grateful to Betty Stevens of the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, who contributed significantly to the editing, formatting, and final preparation of the manuscript for submission to the publishers. Finally, we are grateful to the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (Grant #1 H86-SP03-221-01) for supporting parts of the programs and evaluations reported herein.

  • Appendix: Community Coalition Member Training: Needs Assessment Survey

    Purpose

    The purpose of this survey is to determine areas of needed training to enhance planning and coalition board effectiveness relative to the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention Community Partnership grant implementation.

    Please circle whether you have high or low need for training in any of the following areas:

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    About the Authors

    Ronald L. Braithwaite is Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University and is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine, where he formerly directed a health promotion resource center. He received his B.A. and M.S. degrees from Southern Illinois University in sociology and rehabilitation, respectively. He received his Ph.D. degree from Michigan State University in educational psychology in 1974. He has done postdoctoral studies at Howard University, Yale University, and the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Institute for Social Research. Using several contemporary models for program evaluation, he has evaluated education, health, and human service programs. He has taught research design, statistics, program evaluation, testing and measurement, community organization, and minority health at the graduate level to nursing, medical, and public health students. He is widely published in education and health journals and is coeditor of Health Issues in the Black Community (1992) and Prison and AIDS: A Public Health Challenge (1996). His work in community organization and development has gained national attention, and he has consulted for numerous federal, state, and private organizations. He has also served as principal investigator for a formative evaluation of HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs in correctional settings, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of Schools of Public Health. Currently, he serves as principal investigator for a community-based public health practice partnership funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration and an HIV intervention project for juvenile detainees in the Georgia Boot Camps funded by NIAAA.

    Sandra E. Taylor is Associate Professor in the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Sociology at Clark Atlanta University. She received her B.A. (1977) from Norfolk State University, her M.A. (1978) from Atlanta University, and her Ph.D. (1983) from Washington University. She has done postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan and has studied abroad in the former East and West Germany and in parts of West Africa. Her most recent publications are on health and illness with a specific focus on HIV/AIDS. She is coeditor of Health Issues in the Black Community (1992). Her current research interests are in coalition formation for HIV/AIDS prevention and evaluation of health promotion programs for minority youth. She has held research appointments with the Nell Hodgson School of Nursing and the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University and currently heads the affiliate site at Clark Atlanta University of the Southeastern AIDS Training and Education Center (SEATAC) of the Emory University School of Medicine. She has served as a consultant for various government and private sector initiatives and serves on the advisory boards of several health-related organizations.

    John N. Austin is Professor and Department Chair for the Social Work Program at Delaware State University. He received his B.A. (1973) in political science, his M.S.W. (1974) with an emphasis in community organization and social planning from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and his Ph.D. (1984) in research, policy, and administration from the School of Social Work at VCU. Formerly, he was Professor of Social Work at Norfolk State University and served on the faculty at Longwood College and Hampton University. He has consulted for numerous educational, mental health, and human service agencies including federal agencies and foundations and has been active in providing technical assistance and training to community-based organizations and coalitions throughout the United States.


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