In October 2018, we released our Strategic Roadmap setting the stage for how the John Rex Endowment will meet the challenges facing Wake County children and their families. Following the announcement, we invited community partners to join our staff for one of three “Coffee and Conversation” sessions for the opportunity to discuss and ask questions about the Roadmap. The sessions brought together 36 people from over 30 organizations.
“It’s important that as we implement our Strategic Roadmap, we continue to ask the community what they want and need,” said Kellan Moore, President and CEO of John Rex Endowment. “These conversations were immensely helpful and we look forward to more as we continue through this important process.”
The first step in the conversations was to agree as a group on the definition of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH): the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. Conditions (e.g., social, economic, and physical) in these various environments and settings (e.g., school, church, workplace, and neighborhood) have been referred to as “place.” 1
The Endowment staff wanted to know from our guests the answers to these questions: How is your organization influenced by and/or are incorporating social determinants in its work? What does this look like? And, what kinds of things have helped or could help in these efforts?
We heard three distinct themes
- Advocacy is essential in order to impact the systems affecting the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play. Ideas that surfaced included building an advocacy network, defining roles and approaches for community partners and for the John Rex Endowment, and addressing the “not in my backyard” mentality.
- Collaborating and coordinating is necessary, but it is also challenging. The benefit can come from identifying partners with similar missions and goals, mapping community assets, co-locating resources in most-needed parts of the community, sharing data, aligning with other efforts, and/or determining one’s role in larger efforts. Partners agree there is value, but it is time-consuming.
- Families are at an increasing financial disadvantage as expenses including childcare, affordable housing near employment opportunities, and food access mount creating additional burden on partners to provide services and resources.
In February, the Endowment staff presented to our board a summary of our “Coffee & Conversation” outreach. This is just one example of how over the course of this year, we’ll continue to work with our board and community partners on implementing our Strategic Roadmap.
It takes time and resources to create and influence the changes necessary for all children and their families to be safe, healthy, and living to their full potential. Success is more likely when we are all being attentive to the voices of our community. We will continue to engage with you for your insights, experiences, and feedback.