Partnerships for Health Equity and Opportunity: A Healthcare Playbook for Community Developers

  • Alison Moore
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The United States spends nearly $3.5 trillion on medical care each year, with more than 80 percent spent on treating chronic disease — most of which is avoidable and concentrated among those living in low-income communities. Thus, over $1 trillion is spent every year on treating avoidable disease created by conditions of poverty, which can negatively affect the health of future generations.

What if we changed the paradigm from treating to preventing and reinvested that $1 trillion towards eliminating the intergenerational transmission of poor health and poverty? What would it take for prevention to encompass not just diet and exercise, but other dimensions like financial health, stable housing, access to healthy food, education, even community empowerment and agency?

This playbook from PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network guides community developers toward partnerships with hospitals and healthcare systems. As stewards for the communities they serve, the community development sector develops and finances the physical spaces, infrastructure, and essential services needed to live a healthy and productive life and can serve as an action arm for advancing population health and health equity.


While community development and health professionals have traditionally worked in relative isolation, they have come to share common ground. Both are increasingly recognizing that partnerships and collaboration can mean more comprehensive impacts on community health. However, the full range of resources and expertise that each sector brings, and what the opportunities and pathways to partnership include, may not be fully understood, especially since collaboration is still relatively new.

This playbook builds on the work of the many practical tools that exist to advance cross-sector healthy communities efforts. For community development corporations (CDCs), community development financial institutions (CDFIs), affordable housing developers, and other community development organizations, this action-oriented resource offers guidance to approaching healthcare systems and exploring untapped healthcare partnership opportunities that deepen the impact of community development efforts. For hospitals health care systems, public health, foundations, and others, this resource outlines the community development sector’s potential role in addressing the social determinants and improving population health, and provides a tool to start the internal conversation with leadership about potential cross-sector collaboration.

Use this playbook to help you:

  • Identify cross-sector partners,
  • Determine hospital readiness for collaboration,
  • Leverage your assets for partnership, and
  • Create your partnership roadmap.

By joining forces to address the full range of dimensions of health, the community development and health sectors can achieve an unprecedented scale of prevention and advance good health, well-being, and opportunity for all.

Originally published by Build Healthy Places Network

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