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221 oak street
oakland, ca 94607
tel: 510.444.7738
fax: 510.663.1280


thrive: community tool for health & resilience in vulnerable environments

thrive: a community approach to address health disparities

prevention institute has updated its community approach to addressing disparities in health with the revision of thrive: toolkit for health and resilience in vulnerable environments.  a centerpiece of thrive is a set of community level factors that are linked to healthy people 2010 leading health indicators.  it now features a simplified list of thirteen factors to facilitate use of the tool at the local level.

thrive executive summary (pdf)

thrive expert panel

advancing a community resilience approach to improve health outcomes

poor health and safety outcomes, including chronic disease, traffic-related injuries, mental illness, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and violence, are disproportionately high among low-income people and people of color in the united states. in addition, the impact of racism and oppression increases numerous risk factors for illness and injury, including reduced access to fresh nutritious foods, fewer opportunities for physical activity, greater exposure to environmental toxins, and substandard housing and neighborhood conditions.

with the increased recognition of existing health disparities in the united states, there has been an emphasis on treatment and intervention. however, there is also a need to prevent health disparities before the onset of injury, illness, or death. focusing on underlying factors, both risk and resilience, can save lives and money and reduce suffering. resilience, defined here as the ability to thrive and overcome risk factors, merits attention in order to achieve health and safety outcomes. studies show that resilience factors can counteract the negative impact of risk factors and that effective approaches need to include attention to both. given the preponderance of attention to risk factors, this project will highlight resilience factors that support health and safety outcomes.

resilience approaches have tended to focus on individual measures; attention to community-level factors is also important. for example, the building blocks of healthy communities include marketing and availability of healthy foods as opposed to fast food and tobacco, safe parks, effective education, health and social services, community gathering places, and locally owned businesses. research confirms the relationship between such factors and health and safety outcomes. for instance, social cohesion corresponds with significant increases in physical and mental health, academic achievement, and local economic development, as well as lower rates of homicide, suicide, and alcohol and drug abuse. other examples of community resilience factors include environments that promote walking, bicycling, and other forms of incidental or recreational activity, jobs, a willingness to take action for the common good, positive intergroup relations, and positive behavioral norms. by strengthening such factors, communities have significant capacity to enhance health and safety.

measuring community resilience

the goal of this project was to develop a tool to assess community-level resilience factors that serve as benchmarks for the leading health indicators of healthy people 2010. the tool, which is informed by research, included an environmental scan and piloting in del paso heights, california; hidalgo county, new mexico; and east harlem, central brooklyn, and the south bronx in new york city. a diverse, national expert panel provided guidance throughout the process. the pilot process confirmed the tools utility in rural and urban settings and for community members as well as practitioners and local policy makers. this tool can help local decision-makers close the health gap. it includes collateral materials such as training materials and preliminary guidelines to translate the thrive results into concrete changes in local policies, programs and priorities.

thrive expert panel

anna caballero
mayor, city of salinas
executive director, cultivating peace
salinas, ca

judy corbett
executive director
local government commission
sacramento, ca

kitty hsu dana
american public health association
american friends service committee
associate general secretary for advancement
washington, dc

richard l. dana
executive director
mutual assistance network of del paso heights
sacramento, ca

wayne giles
associate director for science
division of adult and community health
national center for chronic disease prevention and health promotion
centers for disease control and prevention
atlanta, ga

roger hayes, ma
east harlem neighborhood initiative
new york city department of health & mental hygiene
new york, ny

bryna helfer
transportation services advisor
federal transit administration
washington, dc

donna l. higgins, m.s., ph.d.
research scientist, centers for disease control and prevention
seattle partners for healthy communities
public health - seattle & king county - epe
seattle, wa

mareasa isaacs, ph.d. (formerly)
senior associate
the annie e. casey foundation
baltimore, md

david e. jacobs, ph.d., cih
office of healthy homes and lead hazard control
u.s. department of housing and urban development
washington, dc

katherine kraft, ph.d.
senior program officer
the robert wood johnson foundation
princeton, nj

vincent lafronza, ed.d., m.s.
senior advisor public health practice
national association of county and city health officials
washington, dc

james marrufo
grants manager
hidalgo medical services
lordsburg, nm

barbara mcmillen
disability policy analyst
federal highway administration
washington, dc

theda j. mcpheron-keel
wind hollow foundation
frederick, md

xavier morales, ph.d.
assistant director
arizona prevention resource center
phoenix, az

howard pinderhughes, ph.d.
assistant professor
university of california san francisco department of social & behavioral sciences
san francisco, ca

karen pittman
executive director
the forum for youth investment
washington, dc

robert d. putnam, ph.d.
professor of public policy
harvard university
john f. kennedy school of government
cambridge, ma

william j. sabol, ph.d. (formerly)
associate director
center on urban poverty and social change
mandel school of applied social sciences
case western reserve university
cleveland, oh

marion standish
senior program associate
the california endowment
san francisco, ca


prevention institute successfully piloted thrive in october-december 2003 in hidalgo county, new mexico; del paso heights, sacramento, california; and in new york city (east harlem, south bronx, central brooklyn). thrive was ratified by the expert panel in march 2004, and is awaiting federal approval. if you would like to receive a copy of the tool upon approval, please contact rachel davis at 510.444.7738 or rachel@preventioninstitute.org.


this project is made possible by funding from the office of minority health, u.s. department of health and human services.

for more information: contact rachel davis, project director.

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