Drivers of Change

Drivers of Change

Big institutions like government make the rules and rules matter. That’s why Building Healthy Communities is building the power and collaborative partnerships necessary to change the rules.

Building Healthy Communities depends on an inclusive, healthy, democratic process. We are committed to nurturing civically engaged communities with the skills and relationships necessary to tackle their unique challenges. While each success takes us one step toward healthier communities, it is the investment in the communities’ civic infrastructure that will sustain these wins beyond 2020. Building Healthy Communities employs five Drivers of Change that are critical to optimizing democracy now and into the future. Click on the Drivers of Change to read more about how the drivers move the needle on health outcomes. Check out change in action in the 14 places.

As described on the About Building Healthy Communities page, community health is not an accident, but the result of historical and present day differences in how some communities are valued over others. BHC uses the Framework for Health Equity (see below) to explain why an African-American child born in West Oakland can expect to die 15 years before a White child born in the Oakland Hills, less than five miles away. Using this Framework as a guide, each Driver of Change is critical to creating the conditions in each of those “upstream” factors that drive health outcomes—the boxes on the left—so that every person and every community has a fair shot at healthy life.

Changing the way people think about health and why some people have opportunities for health and others do not, what we call narrative change, is helping to reshape norms and beliefs about who matters in our society and how best to invest in community health. This shift in narrative will reset the terms of public debate on key policy issues.

We bring narrative change to life in our new animated video, “A Tale of Two Zip Codes.” In it, we meet Deb and Maria, whose lives are drastically impacted by where they live. We’ve all met people like Deb and Maria. We know them — or we are them. How many neighborhoods do we pass on our way to work that change drastically in just a few stoplights? Although their homes are separated by just a mile, Deb and her more affluent neighbors will live an average of 15 years longer than Maria and her neighbors. What separates them is more than distance. It’s opportunity, education, access to care, safer streets — in short, it’s everything you’d want to have for a healthy, happy, and productive life. On the other hand, Maria and her neighbors in B-ville live in a community with broken, badly lit sidewalks, unsafe parks and streets — all of which contribute to poorer health and a shorter life. Because what happens to Maria and her neighbors contributes to inequality and ultimately affects all of us as a society and as a nation. While these enlightening stories are important, they’re not enough on their own. Real change takes power too.

Through youth and resident power building, community stakeholders will be able to effectively shift the balance of power and hold institutions accountable for addressing social inequities and ensuring all communities have access to the resources essential for health. This will take the form of policy and systems changes that create healthy places and people, as well as leveraging new partnerships with the private sector and other foundations.

The Framework for Health Equity explains why health is often unequally distributed across race, class, immigration status, sexual orientation, and all of the ways in which we are artificially divided. The Drivers of Change framework guides how we disrupt the status quo and realize our vision of health and justice for all.