Stakeholders and Coalitions

Another key approach to achieving requisite variety is through the inclusion of diverse stakeholders in the process of planning and evaluating the health program, which is often accomplished through the development of coalitions. Several federal agencies, such as the Office of Minority Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and private foundations, such as the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, have funding priorities related to health disparities that require programs to engage in coalition development, often in the form of community engagement. The emphasis on developing coalitions parallels the emphasis on health disparities and diversity. Coalitions, partnerships, alliances, consortia, and collaborative linkages are some of the structural forms that result when stakeholders, interested parties, members of the target audience, and professionals with expertise agree to work together toward the common goals of community and health improvements for common constituents. The term coalition is used as the umbrella term for such agreements.

In this case, to address the contextual influences, the program initiators included and promoted participation by members of the university community in planning the wellness program. In so doing, they overcame institutional barriers and mobilized resources for the program. The synergies achieved by involving community members became possible because the university community was understood not as a single thing or a simple geographic location but rather as a group of individuals. In other words, to involve “the community” in program planning requires having influential, energetic, devoted actual

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