The team last week continued to invest time in building relationships with stakeholders in our rural counties. Every day is a learning lesson. One of the clear lessons is that these communities already have dedicated "champions" who want to help the people around them. We were able to get a sense first hand of how these local champions were engaging those around them, getting them excited about improving lives.
That ripple effect reminded me of a Robert Kennedy quote he made from South Africa in 1966: "Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." In our case, we are starting with small steps and modest investments towards better health and better lives, yet I believe the principle remains the same. Spending time with these champions on the ground provided increased confidence that combining their passion with resources will ultimately move the dials that everyone wants to move.
Every week, we have members of our team in the rural counties. I believe there is no substitute for that face to face time. And every day, each member of our team is meeting with stakeholders and partners, to learn, to design, and to implement. Some examples from last week:
* Met with a group of dedicated mental / behavioral health and health access agencies to map out an action plan for a bi-directional integration pilot in the community.
* Met with the core working group that is designing a strategic investment plan for health sciences research, to grow the level of funding in the region. Attended HSSA board meeting to discuss.
* Met with program officers from Gates Foundation to discuss key areas we are collaborating with them.
* Met with communications firm from RWJF to discuss strategies for aligning efforts around the MATCH program in the state and the region.
* Met with director of parks & rec program in rural community to figure out opportunities to work together, and attended local Let's Move monthly meeting.
* Met with key school district staff in another rural community to discuss new opportunities to bring resources and innovations to their district that align with their vision.
* Attended workshop on best practices of grantmaking