About the Training Institute

2020-2021 RWJF Culture of Health Prize Winner

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize honors communities that are at the forefront of advancing health, opportunity, and equity for all. These communities know that where we live—our access of affordable homes, quality schools, and reliable transportation— influences how long and how well we live. Prize communities offer the nation important examples of the type of progress possible when all residents have a fair and just opportunity to live a healthier life. The 2020-2021 RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners are being honored for pursuing innovative ideas, leveraging their unique strengths, and bringing partners together so better health flourishes for everyone.

We were also selected because we excelled in the following six Prize criteria:

  • Defining health in the broadest possible terms.

  • Committing to sustainable systems changes and policy-oriented long-term solutions.

  • Creating conditions that give everyone a fair and just opportunity to reach their best possible health.

  • Maximizing the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members.

  • Securing and making the most of available resources.

  • Measuring and sharing progress and results.

You can find Worcester and our Training Institute facilitators featured as the third community in the following video.

Learn more about our efforts and other RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners at www.rwjf.org/Prize.

Our History

In 2016, racial equity was explicitly named as a priority area within CHIP. However, the work of racial equity training and leadership development began far before then. The history of racial justice work in Worcester has been successful, joyful, and inspiring but also full of struggle, disappointment, and pain. 

The Partnership for Racial and Ethnic Health Equity pre-dated this work as a community group led by Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian members who formed a coalition to advocate for resources and bring attention to racial and health equity initiatives. The Partnership advocated to bring the People’s Institute to Worcester to conduct Undoing Racism trainings. They were advocates for trainings and dialogues at Worcester Public Schools and for a racial equity framework to be adopted throughout the 2016 CHIP. The Partnership served as a working group for the Coalition for the first years of implementation. After it disbanded in 2018, the Coalition formed a new working group called Racism and Discrimination Subcommittee of the Coalition.

When the newly reformed Racism and Discrimination Subcommittee of the Coalition met in early 2019, the members discussed that they needed to honor the history of work that had been done before them, commit to developing a brave and respectful meeting space for members, and follow an intentional community-led process to develop new training and leadership opportunities. A facilitator worked with the group over 6 months to support their rebuilding into the collaborative, transparent, and accountable working group they needed to be. The strengthened subcommittee has the infrastructure to harness community leadership and participation to propel its racial equity work.

In late 2018, through an application led by the Coalition, the City of Worcester was awarded a Centers for Disease Control Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant to address policies, systems, and environmental structures contributing to health disparities in Worcester. A core component of the REACH initiative was funding to support education and leadership for racial and health equity. A contract was developed with the Boston Public Health Commission to develop a local curriculum based on their successful training structure, as well as a train-the-trainer and leadership cohort. We conducted a series of stakeholder interviews to collect data on which to base the curriculum, as well as a series of meetings with the Racism and Discrimination Subcommittee.

The Trauma, Resiliency & Racial Equity Training Institute’s Foundational Training and Supporting Change Agents Series were developed utilizing many of the core components of successful racial equity trainings that had previously been conducted in Worcester, like the People’s Institute for Undoing Racism and Beyond, including a historical perspective, a dual-trainer model with trainers experienced in the field, use of affinity groups and caucusing, as well as a trauma-informed lens, local community context, a mechanism for ongoing and long-term support for participants, and a much more cost effective model.

In 2020, with the sunsetting of the 2016-2020 CHIP, the Coalition embarked on a yearlong, community-wide process to identify new strategies for inclusion in the 2021-2026 CHIP.  With funding support from Health Resources in Action, the Coalition was able lead its deepest community engagement process to date which included 2 new community engagement staff and a team of 10 cohort leaders with lived experience and subject matter expertise in root causes of health disparities. Over the course of the year, this team engaged in a root cause analysis of health disparity data from the Community Health Assessment, conducted 35 community conversations with 97 people, and held 6 community forums. After a qualitative analysis, a 2021 CHIP was synthesized. The CHIP revealed an even deeper racial equity focus than the 2016 CHIP, with explicit strategies named for increased racial equity trainings across staff, employees, and volunteers at health care institutions, municipal departments, human services agencies, public safety, educational sectors, and other services.

 
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