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Best Practices in the Design and Implementation of Learning Communities

Written by Build Healthy Places Staff on December 21, 2015

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Over the past decade, national foundations and the federal government have designed many multisite initiatives that seek to address complex social problems. These initiatives have spanned many fields, from criminal justice to early childhood education to community development and health. In addition to providing sites with funding and technical assistance, a number of these initiatives have included some type of cross-site convening within the design, often referred to as “learning communities.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), as part of its portfolio dedicated to catalyzing demand for healthy places and practices, is designing an initiative in which the learning community is not a supplemental part of the intervention, but the focal point of the work. The intent is to create a platform for knowledge sharing, team building, and networking for cross-sector community teams that are working on a range of strategies related to the culture of health. To inform the design of this work, RWJF asked Mt. Auburn Associates to research how similar types of learning networks, or communities, have been designed, the challenges others have faced when implementing this work, and what have been some of the best practices in terms of building team cohesion, strengthening the capacity of the stakeholders involved in the work, and sparking new and creative thinking.

To read more about the research findings and implications, click here.