Promoting Long-Term Community Health Through Workforce Development


A young African American man sitting in front of a laptop with an African American woman

PHI’s Together Toward Health (TTH) program helped create a more diverse, community-based public health workforce by providing local partner organizations with workforce and professional development opportunities. Members of local groups deepened their expertise in public health work, helping to forge pathways to health equity and improved health outcomes for their communities.

68K+ individuals assisted through workforce development initiatives

900+ participated in trainings, webinars or 22+ learning communities

$3M+ invested in workforce development

PHI’s Together Toward Health (TTH) program is founded on the principle that local groups know the best ways to make their own neighborhoods safer, healthier, and more equitable, and thus community groups must be in the lead for long-term health equity. 

A key piece of this work was helping to create pathways for a more diverse public health workforce based and rooted in the local community. Initiated in August 2020, TTH focused primarily in low-income communities of color that have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, including being impacted by business downsizing and closures. During the pandemic, more than 65% of Californians who faced job losses or hours reductions were people of color.

TTH aimed to support members of their partner community-based organizations with workforce and professional development opportunities, to strengthen and increase their capacity, skills and expertise in public health. Through TTH, members from our partner and grantee community-based groups participated in trainings, one-on-one coaching, resume development, certifications, peer learning and other professional development opportunities that helped build career pathways and connected them with jobs in public health. Trainings included program evaluations, strategic communications,  Community Health Worker and Mental Health First Aid certifications, and more. 

An African American woman showing notes to a colleague by a computer in a workplace
San Diego Workforce Partnership

TTH planned more than 50 trainings and webinars for more than 430 participants, and also facilitated more than 22 monthly virtual Learning Communities with 514 participants, where staff from community organizations shared best practices that are working in their regions, including one Learning Community focused on workforce development. Through TTH training, professional development and Learning Communities, members of local community groups gained the skills they needed to deepen their expertise in the ongoing critical public health work they bring to their communities. 

TTH also supported place-based workforce development partners that are developing public health employment pipelines, including:

  • Worker Education Resource Center (WERC), working in partnership with Los Angeles County, helped create career pathways for community health workers/promotores, contact tracers, system navigators, and other workers who are a part of the COVID response workforce, to help them secure permanent employment after the pandemic.
  • San Diego Workforce Partnership is offering area residents customized training, including  job readiness skills and application support, to help them seek meaningful living-wage, entry-level jobs at behavioral healthcare organizations.
  • Valley Center for the Blind in the Central Valley is helping to create accessible jobs for people with vision loss and expand opportunities for people who are blind and were impacted by COVID-19. Their work included hosting contact tracers for work with their local health department and developing education materials and conducting outreach to business partners to help develop and foster career opportunities.
A group of trainees holding up their certificates
Worker Education Resource Center

In all of these efforts, TTH sought to ensure that trusted community-based groups were supported for their continuing work to address health inequities after the pandemic. Their approach is founded in the belief that trusted relationships and community connections can overcome systemic barriers to health, and can be a pathway to equity and better health outcomes in the long-run.

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