Principles of Partnership
The Louisiana Community Health Outreach Network (LACHON) supports and advocates for community health workers (CHWs) while improving community health. We often receive requests for partnership and collaboration on research and community service, and we are happy to consider these requests. We have established the following principles of partnership to guide our work.
Principles of Partnership
1. Experience and Expertise – LACHON’s partners should acknowledge the experience they both possess and lack. More importantly, partners should respect the expertise of LACHON staff and members, many of whom have been engaged in grassroots community health work for decades.
2. Equity – LACHON calls on our partners to recognize the systemic marginalization and racism that many of our staff and members have experienced. The background of LACHON’s staff and members is often less privileged than many partners, so equitable contributions may not be 50/50.
3. Outreach, Networking, and Trust – Partners seeking to network should recognize that LACHON has spent over 10 years developing trust and connections with CHWs and other community health professionals in Louisiana and elsewhere. When asking to tap into our network, partners should ask themselves: “How does this support CHWs and the marginalized communities they serve?” and “Does this serve to develop or diminish trust with communities?”
4. Elevation – Making systemic change requires elevating groups that do not usually have a seat at decision-making tables. Partners should be able to answer not only if, but how their project or request elevates the CHW workforce and the under-represented people CHWs serve.
5. Compensation – Partners should appreciate and compensate consultations by LACHON staff and members in the same manner as the partner would appreciate the expertise of others in the field. If LACHON is to be a partner on grants, all hourly rates, stipends, honorariums, and other
forms of compensation should reflect how the partner values the experience, analysis, and wisdom of CHWs.
6. Opportunities – Partners should actively work to provide opportunities for CHWs including jobs, board memberships, scholarships, fellowships, panels, special rates, guest appearances, or inkind services that could further support the lives and work of CHWs.
7. Information and Data – Partners should be forthcoming and transparent with information regarding their organization, goals, relationships, and histories. They should also be sensitive in seeking and amplifying information, particularly personal data, that could further marginalize the communities CHWs serve. LACHON should have the opportunity to review all data and research results from partnered studies before public presentation or publication.
8. Administrative Support – Partners should recognize that LACHON has limited administrative staff. Burdensome paperwork, reporting, and unnecessary or inefficient meetings can be draining on LACHON’s staff and reduce the organization’s ability to achieve its mission. We ask that partners do everything possible to reduce these burdens.
9. Project Design – Partners should involve LACHON in the development of new grant applications for research or service projects, rather than engaging LACHON after funding has been awarded. LACHON members and staff have decades of experience developing and carrying out service and research, so our expertise can help ensure that partnered work is effective and meaningful.
10. Co-leadership – LACHON staff or members should be offered opportunities to co-lead service and research projects with partner organizations. Co-leadership entails equitable power, funding, and accountable decision-making authority.
11. Autonomy – Partners recognize that LACHON remains guided by its mission, and no partnership will be construed to limit LACHON’s independent activities unless specifically agreed upon in the partnership.
12. Accolades, Credit, and Attribution – Partners should be aware of the historic tension of some academic and public health organizations taking credit for grassroots organizations’ trailblazing efforts. This is especially sensitive when under-resourced leaders have moved the field forward without support. As such, it is very important for partners to give proper credit to LACHON (including co-authorship on publications, recognition in the media, opportunities for presentations, etc.) for its participation in collaborative efforts.
These principles have been adapted from work developed by our friends and colleagues Bruce Reilly and Norris Henderson of Voice of the Experienced (VOTE, www.vote-nola.org) as well as the principles of community-partnered participatory research created by our friends and mentors, the late Loretta Jones of Healthy African American Families, II and Dr. Kenneth Wells of UCLA. (Jones L, Wells K. Strategies for academic and clinician engagement in community-participatory partnered research. JAMA. 2007 Jan 24;297(4):407-10. doi: 10.1001/jama.297.4.407. PMID: 17244838.)