Key Points

· This article describes Community Partnerships for Healthy Children (CPHC), a 10-year, $17 million initiative of the Sierra Health Foundation targeted at improving children’s health in northern California by mobilizing communities to use their assets. Implementation grants were modest ($50,000 annually), but technical assistance and communications support were also provided.

· The initiative rolled out in four phases. Overall, a total of 31 communities participated in the initiative. Twenty-six communities remained through phase three, with 18 engaging in the final fourth phase.

· Evidence indicates that CPHC improved the health of some children in some communities with regard to some outcomes, but did not improve the health of children at the population level. Community building appears to be well-suited to devising and implementing successful strategies to address straightforward health issues in the short term; more time, resources, and expertise are needed for more complex problems.

· The community collaboratives achieved many of the intermediate goals of the initiative. The evidence is strong that communities did identify and respond to needs.

· Most of the collaboratives on their own had access to few resources initially, but over time they were able to gather fiscal and human resources from a variety of sources and combine them to provide services such as recreation programs or family resource centers. Collaboratives involved in the final grant stage had been able to raise from other sources an amount nearly twice the foundation’s investment in CPHC.

· The collaboratives were similar in role but differed in many other ways, such as the geographic scope and the existing assets. Collaboratives that had members with certain skills (such as grantwriting, public relations, and computer skills) had greater success.

Open Access