Companion Worksheet

check box with pen

Download this worksheet to track your progress and reflect on your own community’s experience.

Like you, community leaders across the nation are trying to engage with residents in ways that share leadership, decision-making power, and ownership. The guidance, tools, and activities here will help you understand how partnering with residents will benefit the community and your work. It will help determine if you are ready to begin this process by thinking about how you show up in the community and what else might already be happening. When you're ready, it will get you started with a strong foundation for these partnerships built on relationships and trust.

Engaging community members, especially people most affected by poor health outcomes, is an essential part of improving health outcomes and advancing equity in communities. Particularly, community strategies that have achieved high levels of collaboration, partnership development, and empowerment all showed positive study outcomes (Cyril, Smith, Possamai-Inesedy, & Renzaho, 2015).

We’re all in this together. Communities are made up of people – people who live there, people who work there, people who play there. When working to improve a community, we need everyone to be a part of the decision- and change-making process. That includes agencies working to serve the community and the residents who live there. When all parts of the community engage in this process together, we all experience a greater sense of sense of belonging, trust, and power.  

Community engagement includes a balance of strategies that:

  • Raise awareness and participation;
  • Gather feedback and input from residents;
  • Involve residents as active leaders (Stojicic, Wright, & Creegan, 2018).

To seek collaborative solutions, we need to bring together all the key parties. How can we think that we will find workable solutions without engaging everyone who may be involved, especially those most directly affected by the issues? Yet we often try to resolve gang violence without talking to gang members, combat youth drug abuse without talking to any young people, address the needs of new immigrant communities without bringing immigrants into the room, or understand why front-line employees are disgruntled without asking them. Tom Wolff
The Power of Collaborative Solutions (p. 27)

There are lots of ways to think and talk about communities, residents, and participation. For the purposes of this Action Learning Guide, we’re going to think of these terms in this way:


A community is a group of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations.

Resident/Community Member

Residents are the people who live in communities and have a unique understanding of the issues affecting the community. Residents may be formal or informal leaders, or people working to develop their leadership.

In this guide, we will use the terms Community Member and Resident interchangeably.

Resident Engagement/ Community Engagement

Resident engagement is working with people who are impacted by your efforts as equal partners. This includes a range of practices used to:

  • Increase resident awareness and participation in the services provided by organizations;
  • Cultivate ongoing feedback and input from residents to identify priorities, select and improve strategies, implement changes, and evaluate their effectiveness;
  • Support active resident leadership (community activation) by creating conditions for residents to lead and be involved in transformational efforts (Stojicic et al., 2018).

In this guide, we will use the terms Community Engagement and Resident Engagement interchangeably.

Excluded or Marginalized Groups

Groups of people who have often suffered discrimination and/or been pushed to society’s margins with inadequate access to key opportunities.

Examples of historically excluded or marginalized groups include, but are not limited to:

  • people of color,
  • people living in poverty, particularly across generations,
  • religious minorities,
  • people with physical or mental disabilities,
  • LGBTQ persons and women (Braveman et al., 2017).


Braveman, P., Arkin, E., Orleans, T., Proctor, D., Plough, A., Austin, D., … Hahn, R. (2017). What Is Health Equity? And What Difference Does a Definition Make? National Collaborative for Health Equity MBA, Evidence for Action. Retrieved from http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue_briefs/2017/rwjf437393

Cyril, S., Smith, B. J., Possamai-Inesedy, A., & Renzaho, A. M. N. (2015). Exploring the role of community engagement in improving the health of disadvantaged populations: a systematic review. Global Health Action, 8, 29842. https://doi.org/10.3402/gha.v8.29842

Stojicic, P., Wright, K., & Creegan, A. (2018). Keep Three Approaches in Balance for Successful Resident Engagement | ReThink Health. Retrieved April 13, 2018, from https://www.rethinkhealth.org/the-rethinkers-blog/keep-three-approaches-...

Wolff, T. (2010). The Power of Collaborative Solutions. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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