Community In Action

Examples of programs, policies, and tools in action.

Bringing Plans to Life

A plan for action is a roadmap for achieving your goals. It comes to life when it includes clear, measurable goals, timelines, and accountabilities for accomplishing the work. With many multi-sector workgroups and successful programs and policy wins across several health focus areas, the Greater Flint Health Coalition (GFHC) had a proven track record for developing strategic action plans that achieve goals utilizing a collective impact model.

When the 2010 County Health Rankings showed Genesee County, MI ranked last in health behaviors, it was important that the coalition link the data from the Rankings with existing information, and link the health behaviors action plan with their strategic plan. 

Starting with the goal of Genesee County/City of Flint becoming a “Healthy Place to Live, Work, and Play” over the next 10 years, the coalition charged an ad hoc work group of cross-sectional leaders to develop an action plan for tackling health behaviors. “We looked at physical activity levels, nutrition, smoking, and a collection of environmental issues and tied the Rankings in to other behavioral data we had,” said Kirk Smith, President and CEO of GFHC. Focus areas of the plan emphasized strategies to improve health behaviors, while integrating impacts of the physical environment, neighborhood safety, and public transportation. 

The group created a Strategy Outline as a simple visual to guide their work and communicate their vision of progress to stakeholders.

Before creating the action plan, the group developed a short list of multiple strategies that would guide their planning, including the requirement that the plan build on existing community resources and activities when possible, focus on both short and long-term goals and outcomes, and be evidence-based. Most importantly, the final plan had to have full commitment, support and engagement of all GFHC Board member organizations.

The group then created an action plan which outlines short-term (1-3 year) strategies, including workplace wellness initiatives, community-wide campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles, support of smoke-free workplaces and campuses, community support of infant breastfeeding, and others. Long-term (10-20 year) strategies are policy, system and environmental change oriented; for example, implementing new health care payment models, standards regarding school-based nutrition and physical activity requirements, and incorporation of health advocates into land use planning. Each short and long-term strategy includes specific, measurable outcomes. Finally, as a way to summarize and simplify the short and long-term strategies, the group outlined five strategies as a “call to action”  highlighting top priorities for the community going forward.

The GFHC Board members adopted their County Health Rankings Action Plan in December 2010, and integrated components of the action plan into an updated Greater Flint Health Coalition 2020 Strategic Business Plan in June 2012. 

There are many significant outcomes from GFHC’s collaborative, thoughtful approach. For one, Genesee Health System adopted a smoke-free policy in just 3 months using a toolkit developed by one of the work groups.  For another, when the Mayor of Flint led development of the first City of Flint Master Plan in 50 years, GFHC’s input was sought, with the result that health, safety and resident welfare are integrated into the “Imagine Flint” initiative, and GFHC members are actively involved in its task forces and work groups.

GFHC’s strategy for improving health behaviors was developed collaboratively, in alignment with the GFHC long-term strategic plan, and included specific, measurable goals for a select number of strategies, and clear delineation of roles and responsibilities for getting the work done. As a result, Flint and its surrounding communities are on their way to much better health.

Click here to learn more about the Greater Flint Health Coalition’s work, here to learn more about Imagine Flint and here to read the GFHC Healthy Flint & Genesee County 2020 report, or watch the Partnering with Community Police webinar featuring Kirk Smith and Officer Tanya Meeks, or contact Kirk at 

Communities in Action provide examples of strategies or tools in action. Their purpose is to connect like-minded communities in their implementation efforts, giving insight into how others are tackling key challenges and what they've accomplished. 

Date added: November 4, 2014