There are many benefits to collaborating with the community. Here are just a few:
- Provides a vehicle for mutual aid and empowerment. Coalitions depend on community trust and support to gain access to informal power structures, resources, and communication channels.
- Increases the likelihood that new prevention activities will be informed by past and current community efforts. Knowing what is going on in the community—and what has gone on in the past—will help to ensure that new prevention approaches are a good fit with community climate. Recognizing pre-existing efforts further strengthens the coalition and keeps you from re-inventing the wheel.
- Provides a feedback loop for sharing findings. Community members who have been involved in assessment and planning are more likely to be invested in program activities, and subsequently more eager to share evaluation findings and successes.
- Fosters accountablility. Community collaboration helps to ensure that the needs of the community will be met in the most appropriate ways.
- Increases cultural sensitivity. A needs assessment process that involves community members will help planners better understand the culture of the community.
- Requires a lot of effort. We are not suggesting that collaboration is easy. Forming lasting collaborations and involving members of your target audience is a real challenge. However, the prevention literature clearly shows that programs that are built on a foundation of collaboration are more successful than those that are not.
Developed under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies contract. Reference #HHSS277200800004C. For training and/or technical assistance purposes only.