Community engagement is a powerful tool for organizations that want to create lasting and positive change. When done well, community engagement builds trust, advances health equity, creates cost-savings and efficiencies for healthcare organizations, and leads to healthy and thriving communities.

But all community engagement is not created equal. Too often, healthcare professionals and community members alike find that well-intentioned community engagement initiatives feel tokenistic, transactional, and unimpactful. What is often missing is an understanding of how to create authentic partnerships between organizations and communities.

INSPIRE is a national partnership project made up of people with lived experience (PWLE) and organizations committed to advancing partnerships between healthcare organizations and community members/PWLE across the country. To do this, it is important for us to have a shared understanding of who “community” is and what “community engagement” means. It is also important that we understand what makes community engagement meaningful (or not).

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