Pivoting to Meet the Moment: A Case Study of Community Organizing Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In 2019, Community Catalyst launched a project in partnership with three advocacy organizations aimed at organizing their local communities, primarily communities of color, to influence health systems to be more responsive to community needs. With support from Community Catalyst, they sought to: identify a community-driven policy agenda; work with local health care institutions to strengthen community engagement; and advance public policies that support community engagement in health care. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted both the relationships each organization had with health systems and the way they could organize their communities. Additionally, the movement in support of Black lives opened new opportunities for more explicit conversations about racial justice and health equity. Each organization adapted its work to address the emerging crises in their communities, and Community Catalyst supported partners’ strategies to be both flexible and resilient in responding to community needs. While the specific details and milestones of each project changed, each partner successfully forged deep relationships with community members, other community-based organizations, and health systems. This case study highlights community resilience and illustrates the importance of adapting projects – including project funding – to enable organizations to respond to community priorities, especially among indigenous, immigrant, AAPI, Latinx, low-income and justice-involved communities.

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