The National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center) is a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining and improving health care in rural communities. It provides technical assistance, information, tools, and resources for the improvement of rural health care. It serves as the nation’s leading technical assistance and knowledge center in rural health as it strives to build state and local capacity.  

One of its programs, the Delta Region Community Health Systems Development (DRCHSD) Program defines a Community Champion (CC) as an individual that can be a catalyst for culture change. A Champion is instrumental in creating a cultural shift in their community towards healthier living and is essential to assisting the selected health care organization in preparing an infrastructure for population health.  

The CC acts as the liaison between the DRCHSD Program, the healthcare organization, and the community. It is working with partners to identify community organizations and community partners that can address socio-economic challenges, enhance the coordination of services and care, and help position and strengthen their local health care delivery system for population health. 

Problem Addressed

It is vital for our Community Champions to be able to lead meaningful conversations and effective gatherings that can direct and facilitate improvements in the health of the community. The community buy-in is essential for the impact and sustainability of this work. 

Solutions Used
  • The Center staff has used ToP Facilitation Methods for almost a decade and has seen great results with garnering community participation and engagement. This led to Rural Health incorporating the ToP facilitation methods within the DRCHSD Program. 
  • Community Champions are able to conduct meaningful conversations and make the community joint partners fully engaged by using the facilitation methods. These methods enable them to make all voices heard, and effectively collaborate with community partners. In return has made them accomplish goals through action plans and realistic timelines.  

The Community Partners continue to stay engaged because they feel heard and can help improve the health of their community. They are also starting to learn how to lead their own meetings more effectively by attending ours. 

At Rural Health, they measure the Community Care Coordination collaboration using a Wilder Collaboration Factors Tool (WCFT) with event participants (health care organization leadership, community champion, and community partners). To tailor their TA approach properly, the WCFT helped measure the strengths and the opportunities among the collaboratives and monitors the level of collaboration within the community for ongoing development. Collectively, the benefits to the organization and the impact demonstrated through its results  were presented to support the decision-making in sustaining the Champion position and the collaboration after graduating from our program. Averaged baseline results for two key WCFT measures summarizing Cohorts 2017 – 2019 status include “History of collaboration or cooperation in the community” (3.75 / 5.0) and “Members see collaboration as being in their self-interest” (4.48); where 5 strongly agree and 1 strongly disagree. We find value in understanding where these communities start as far as collaboration and that they see value in continuing to work together. 

Lessons Learned

Effective methods in communication, collaboration, and in leadership bring sustainable growth to individuals and to its organization. 


“The organization provided by the team was unbelievable. I was guided through the process one baby-step at a time and soon we had 20+ community partners in a zoom meeting on board and ready to tackle what was ahead. With the help of those community partners, hospital administration, and phenomenal support from our Marketing Director, we made big things happen. #SilenceTheShameTN was launched.” 

-Henry County Medical Center Community Champion 

“It has been an honor to be included in such an awesome learning experience for the past 3 years. I do not take this for granted! We have been afforded teachings that will last a lifetime and beyond. So, thank you for the work that you do to highlight the necessity of bringing ways to make healthcare better in the rural areas. I love you guys because this is more than just a job for you – it is your calling! Keep up the wonderful work you are doing. Your reward will be great!” 

-DePaul Community Health Center Community Champion 

“I wanted to thank everyone for leading a great and organized event. I stayed engaged the whole time. I don’t want to get into politics, but this was the perfect opportunity to be productive and address the nuts and bolts of the community’s health needs. By the group working together in this way, there will be health improvement impacts. We can show other communities in Southern IL how to do this work and make impacts. This has been very productive and I’m impressed.” 

-Dave Severin- IL State Representative 

Who should consider this training?

Organizations and individuals seeking sustainable development in all areas of their personal and professional growth. 

or to plan – will benefit from customized facilitation and consulting. 

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