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Coalition-Building in American Indian Communities. October 13, 2011 Albert Gay, M.S. . Objectives. To define “coalition” To explain the purpose of a coalition To list community groups that should be “at the table” To identify barriers and plan around them

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coalition building in american indian communities

Coalition-Building in American Indian Communities

October 13, 2011

Albert Gay, M.S.

  • To define “coalition”
  • To explain the purpose of a coalition
  • To list community groups that should be “at the table”
  • To identify barriers and plan around them
  • To improve coalition recruitment and retention
how do you define a coalition
How Do You Define a Coalition?

CADCA defines coalitions as a formal arrangement for collaboration between groups or sectors of a community, in which each group retains its identity but all agree to work together toward a common goal of building a safe, healthy, and drug-free community.

here s what coalitions are not
Here’s What Coalitions are NOT:
  • Not human service organizations
  • Not single entities
  • Not run by outside organizations
purpose of coalitions
Purpose of Coalitions
  • To serve as catalysts for change in the community
  • That goal often includes one of the following:
    • Adapting, creating, or developing public policy
    • Influencing the community’s behavior
    • Creating a healthy community
here s what coalitions do
Here’s What Coalitions Do:
  • Connect with their community members on a grassroots level.
  • Collaborate on problem-solving and community development.
here s why coalitions form
Here’s Why Coalitions Form
  • To address an urgent situation demanding action
  • To acquire or provide services
  • To deliver effective and efficient practices, policies, and programs
here s why coalitions form cont d
Here’s Why Coalitions Form (cont’d.)
  • To provide resources
  • To facilitate communication among groups
  • To strategically plan community-wide initiatives
here s why coalitions form cont d1
Here’s Why Coalitions Form (cont’d.)
  • To foster leverage within the community
  • To create and sustain social change
coalitions the public health model
Coalitions & The Public Health Model
  • This model requires coalitions to think in a comprehensive manner beyond the part of the problem they see.
coalitions the public health model cont d
Coalitions & The Public Health Model (cont’d.)
  • Problems arise through the relationships and interactions among the agent, the host, and the environment.
the influence of coalitions
The Influence of Coalitions

Influencing the HOST

Reaching people directly through schools, social programs, workplaces, daycare centers, religious organizations, and other groups.

Influencing the AGENT

Working to diminish impact of the substance.

the influence of coalitions cont d
The Influence of Coalitions (cont’d.)

Influencing the ENVIRONMENT

Reinforcing healthy behaviors in schools, families, neighborhoods, and communities, as well as broader social and cultural settings.

risk protection
Risk & Protection
  • Identifying and understanding the risk and protective factors in your community provides a solid base from which to begin planning.
  • An important goal of prevention coalitions is to change the balance so protective factors outweigh risk factors.
who should be at the table
Who Should Be at the Table?
  • Youth
  • Parents
  • Businesses
  • Media
  • Schools
  • Youth-Serving Organizations
  • Law Enforcement
  • Faith-based Community
  • Civic and Volunteer Groups
  • Health Care Professionals
who should be at the table cont d
Who Should Be at the Table? (cont’d.)
  • Schools
  • Youth-Serving Organizations
  • Law Enforcement
  • Tribal, State or Local Agencies
  • Other Organizations Reducing Substance Abuse
youth positive peer groups
Youth: Positive Peer Groups

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/Pitfalls

Transportation to meetings


Keeping engaged

  • Insight into youth’s perspectives
  • Youth involved in planning
  • Youth ownership in initiatives
  • Youth as volunteers
  • Youth as leaders
  • Direct influence of youth

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/Pitfalls


Keeping them interested

Busy schedules/work hours conflict with meetings

  • Big stakeholders in the well-being of youth
  • Important feedback on successes or failures of initiatives
  • Volunteers
local business
Local Business

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/Pitfalls

Decisions based on finances outweigh decisions for the good of the community

“Business mindset trumps coalition heart”

MBEs are often small, and owners only have time to run business

  • Financial support
  • Fiscal management expertise
  • Strategic plan development
  • Managerial expertise
  • Opportunity to interact with MBE/WBE

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/pitfalls

Sensationalism overshadows prevention message

  • Getting message out
  • Multiple avenues of dissemination
  • Expertise on message delivery
  • Exposure increases recruitment
  • PSAs
  • Provision of expertise in:
    • Media Advocacy
    • Social Marketing
    • Issue Framing

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/pitfalls


Preoccupied with trying to achieve State standards

No volunteers to commit to coalition duties

Protection of school reputation

Little to no sharing of data or info

  • Access to school youth
  • School data for assessment
  • Valuable staff insight
  • Ease of school engagement
  • Community planning from school perspective
  • Bridge between families and coalitions
youth serving organizations
Youth-Serving Organizations

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/Pitfalls

Organizations may be too busy with youth programming to be productive in coalition matters

Too much dependence on organization’s youth

Competing interests cause conflict

  • Access to youth
  • Expertise in youth development and programming
  • Youth recruitment for coalition
law enforcement
Law Enforcement

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/Pitfalls

History of mistrust / bad relations

Officers live outside community

No positive relationships with residents

Focus more on punishment than prevention

  • Key resource in fulfillment of strategy
  • Enforcement of policies and laws
  • Police image improved throughout community
faith based organizations
Faith-Based Organizations

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/Pitfalls

Involvement contingent upon agreement with religious standards

Outspoken spiritual views may offend some coalition members.

Diverting attention from common cause to personal belief debates

  • Visionary leadership
  • Inspirational leadership resulting in momentum
  • Ready volunteer base
civic groups
Civic Groups

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/Pitfalls

Potential conflicting message during social events (i.e., serving of alcohol)

  • High visibility in community
  • Community service initiatives
  • Volunteer base
  • Strategies for raising awareness in community
  • Donations towards coalition cause
  • Reach out to local businesses/gov’t. for policy shaping around ATOD
health professionals
Health Professionals

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/Pitfalls

Lack of consistency due to time constraints

Rotating staff to meetings as representatives

  • Access to community-specific information
  • Voice of authority on health matters
  • Respect gained from community
tribal state or local governmental agencies
Tribal, State or Local Governmental Agencies

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/Pitfalls

Political one-sidedness

Political suicide

Getting tied to politician’s views & political agenda

Loss of coalition’s voice by adhering to politician’s views

Dominance of government

Loss of vision for political gain

Falling for politics as usual

  • Expertise on local government
  • Policy-making for coalition’s favor
  • Key stakeholder in the city
  • Amped-up voice for under-represented minority populations
  • Media coverage
  • Leadership
other organizations
Other Organizations

Potential Benefits

Potential Barriers/Pitfalls

Spread too thin between coalition and other community involvement

  • Extremely close to heart of community
  • Previous community action
  • Involvement in other community coalitions
barriers pitfalls activity
Barriers & Pitfalls Activity
  • Split into groups.
  • Look at the sectors around the room.
  • Determine which sectors are missing & which are present in your coalition.
  • Instruct each group to gather at a different sector.
barriers pitfalls activity cont d
Barriers & Pitfalls Activity (cont’d.)
  • If a sector is missing, write BARRIERS keeping them from being at the table.
  • If a sector is present, write current or potential pitfalls that impede progress in the coalition’s goals.
  • After 1 minute, rotate clockwise to the next sector
  • After final rotation, return to seats as a group and fill out the following matrix for missing sectors only
breaking through barriers
Breaking Through Barriers
  • Activity
  • Look at your starting sector and the listed barriers.
  • Discuss/write ways to overcome barriers discussed using action plan.
how can we recruit these missing sectors
How Can We Recruit These Missing Sectors?
  • Create a Marketing Plan that:
    • Is Sector-Specific
      • Culturally
      • Politically
    • Acknowledges Barriers
    • Is Strategic in Placement
    • Accurately Displays Goals
      • Mutually Beneficial

4 P’s Marketing

  • Product is the goal of the campaign. It is the behavior we would like the focus audience to change or maintain.
  • Price is what the people in the focus audience must give up in order to receive the program’s benefit.

4 P’s Marketing (Cont’d.)

  • Promotion is the overall strategy (messages) used for persuading people to accept the price for the product.
  • Placeis the communication channel that will be used to get the promotional message to the focus audience.
building blocks of coalitions
Building Blocks of Coalitions

1. Relationship

2. Dedication

3. Trust

4. Shared Knowledge

5. Leadership

6. Assessment

(Doherty, 2000; Perkins, Borden, and Knox, 1999; Thompson et al., 2003)

  • They are the cornerstone for networking & collaborative agreements
  • They take time! 
    • They require repeated conversations and frequent occasions for working / planning together.
    • They help shared visions and common purposes emerge.

Perkins, D. E, Borden, O., & Knox, A. (1999)

  • Long-term dedication among staff members
  • It takes time for leaders from the different organizations to count on one another to supply needed services
  • It takes time for people to recognize that they are not in competition
  • It often takes a long time for change and transformation to occur in distressed communities.

Doherty (2000)

  • Facilitates communication
  • Creates a willingness and commitment to identify with the collaboration
  • Nurtured when members together produce written mission, expectations, and terms for exchanging resources. 

(Perkins, Borden, & Knox, 1999).

trust cont d
Trust (cont’d.)
  • Cultivated & maintained through constant communication:
    • a constant exchange of information
    • not one-sided

(Perkins, Borden, & Knox, 1999).

shared knowledge
Shared Knowledge
  • Knowledge of the community’s history, its strengths, and its needs is a vital element
    • (i.e. demographic information, suggestions etc.)
  • Involves building a deeper, common understanding. 
    • Buried, unacknowledged memories of past resentments and/or of injustices negatively affect current efforts to work together.

(Thompson et al. 2003)

  • Strong leadership is required to move the cooperating organizations toward shared goals and objectives
  • Successful collaborative leaders focus on intentional and goal-directed relationship-building
  • Don’t forget about your Champions!

Perkins, D. E, Borden, O., & Knox, A. (1999)

  • Ongoing process of assessment is always present in successful networking.
  • It’s the vehicle through which networks maintain and reinforce their shared visions and mission.
  • It provides clarity about how success will be measured is essential to the network’s health. 

Perkins, D. E, Borden, O., & Knox, A. (1999)

swot analysis exercise
SWOT Analysis Exercise

Positive (+)

Negative (-)



coalitions do more than bring people together they bring systems together
Coalitions do more than bring people together: They bring systems together!
  • The Paradigm shift of Leadership: understanding that Prevention is Community Leadership
  • Bringing systems together that normally may have functioned on their own (independently)
  • SAMHSA has greatly helped coalitions by creating a prevention platform as a tool.
  • Doherty, W. (2000). Family science and family citizenship: Toward a model of community partnership with families. Family Relations, 49 (3), 319-325.
  • Perkins, D. E, Borden, O., & Knox, A. (1999). Two critical factors in collaboration on behalf of children, youth, and families. Journal of Family and ConsumerSciences, 91 (2), 73-78.
  • Thompson, M. et al. (2003). Facilitators of well-functioning consortia: National health start program lessons. Health & Social Work, 28 (3). 185-195.