Building Capacity, Relationships and Workforce Critical to Sustaining Health Equity


community health workers leaving flyer on door

PHI’s Together Toward Health played a critical role in helping to expand the capacity of community-based organizations and their staff, build stronger relationships and partnerships between communities and develop a public health workforce that’s made up of people from the community.

265K+ individuals have been assisted with workforce development initiatives, such as one-on-one support, coaching, resume development and trainings.

59% TTH grantees hired full- or part-time positions

130 training sessions and webinars curated by TTH and led by various organizations with over 5,321 participants estimated to date

$2.48M invested into place-based workforce development

41% hired permanent positions

At the height of the pandemic in August 2020, the Public Health Institute’s Together Toward Health (TTH) was formed to help address the equity gaps that already existed in our public health systems but were made drastically worse by COVID-19. TTH prioritized funding community-based organizations (CBOs) to lead COVID outreach and messaging efforts to provide professional development opportunities within the communities they were serving. The funding allowed CBOs to employ workers directly from the community, many of whom identified as Promotoras or community health workers. TTH’s focus on sustainability has strengthened communities’ capacity for health equity, providing community resilience long after the pandemic.

 Strengthening Relationships

In regions like Orange County, coalitions of TTH grantees are partnering with local health departments and convening regularly to address broader health equity challenges that exist in their communities. TTH was also instrumental in helping CBOs to connect across the state and build relationships through virtual and monthly learning platforms where they could coordinate, collaborate, learn, share, and discuss new ideas that support specific demographics, groups and communities.

Building Capacity of CBOs

TTH intentionally prioritized strategies that would continue to benefit communities for years to come and help to build their capacity, including:

  • Expanding the capacity of CBOs and their staff to sustain and continue health equity work even after pandemic-specific funding ends.
  • Building strong relationships and partnerships between communities, CBOs, local health departments, funders, and other stakeholders that will continue to yield productive outcomes and collaborative solutions to stubborn and pervasive health equity issues like childhood obesity or access to mental health supports, and to new challenges as they arise.
  • Developing a public health workforce made up of people from the community who have a stake in its future and can understand and are trusted by their neighbors.

TTH designed an approach to supplement broader capacity-building and professional development objectives. Additional funding was provided to local entities to focus on training and job creation opportunities to mitigate job losses while also bolstering community resilience and public health workforce resources.

This funding came at a critical time during the pandemic when many community health workers faced financial uncertainty. Because of TTH funding, many CBOs were not only able to retain their current workforce but also expand it, which allowed them to keep up with the demand for services.

Supporting Workforce Development

Through TTH, 265,865 individuals have been assisted with workforce development initiatives, such as one-on-one support, coaching, resume development and trainings. Workforce development partners shared that program participants gained greater awareness and understanding of the importance of social determinants of health. Training opportunities provided participants with exposure to a wide range of sectors that supported capacity-building opportunities. For example, one program involved students from higher education institutions to partake in workforce development activities, serving as dedicated mentors to high school students who connected concepts from the classroom to the public health field in practice. As a result, program participants began to see themselves as future public health professionals with a fundamental understanding of the social determinants of health and their role in preventing disease and advancing equity.


Employers that we interacted with expressed a need for a more diverse behavioral health workforce that reflected the communities that they were serving and, as such, we focused on recruiting participants for this program from those communities. Workforce Development Partner
The flexibility of the funds gave us the freedom to meet the needs of our participants to set them up for success in the program and beyond. Workforce Development Partner

TTH has shown how trusting and investing in CBOs’ workforces can create lasting effects in communities reeling from economic instability brought on by public health challenges. Thanks to TTH’s support, communities are now more equipped to handle future public health emergencies.

community health worker handing out flyer

Learn more about Together Toward Health's impact

PHI engaged Harder+Company Community Research and Ross Strategic at the onset of the initiative to evaluate the impact of Together Toward Health. The evaluation used a mixed methods approach, incorporating quantitative data and narrative stories, to summarize TTH-funded activities, explore the implementation of the TTH model, and identify community-level impact of TTH funding on addressing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

See the evaluation briefs

A version of the impact story first appeared in the Together Toward Health Impact Report and  Evaluation Brief.

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