Public Agenda’s research team conducted 18 in-depth confidential online interviews across all six teams, with state-based grantees, community-based partner organizations, and community members who served on steering committees. Interviews were designed and conducted to allow for reflection on the work completed, identify best practices, and consider improvements. The goal of this report is to inform the efforts of people working to strengthen health policy in communities through community engagement and community-engaged research and those who support that work.

Lessons learned include:

  • Trust is essential for a successful initiative; building and maintaining it is time-consuming but necessary.
  • Thoughtful and deliberate partnership composition is important; attention to the inclusion of diverse perspectives and approaches to achieving the same goal adds value.
  • Sustaining an initiative requires community buy-in and authentic ownership.
  • Initiatives need to be flexible to address community needs. Time to evaluate, reflect, and adjust is valuable.
  • Diversity alone is not enough: People recognize when they are invited but not heard.
  • Policy change takes years, but engaging lawmakers from the start may help the process.
  • Technical assistance is valuable: more is welcomed, especially how to find additional funding.