Bringing it ‘All In!’ in Pandemic Times

NJHI 2020: Small Communities Forging Hyperlocal Data Collaboratives Pleasantville “All In!”
The 10 NJHI: Small Communities Forging Hyperlocal Data Collaboratives Dream Teams convened for a co-creation event on February 27, 2020, prior to the announcement of shelter-in-place advisories and the onset of the pandemic.

Bringing people together to create change. So many wonderful minds and hearts coming together with diverse viewpoints and a wealth of knowledge and experience. It’s hard to believe that a little more than year ago, all of the NJHI: Small Communities Forging Hyperlocal Data Collaboratives Dream Teams met in the SAME ROOM. The atmosphere was electric as we reviewed the available data on our communities’ customized dashboards and brainstormed ideas for improving health for everyone through this initiative.

When the pandemic reached our state and region in March and the first shelter-in-place advisories were issued, we naively thought the situation would be short term. However, as the weeks and months passed, we realized we would be ‘Zooming’ into 2021. As all strong Dream Teams do, we pivoted. Our areas of focus for Pleasantville ‘All in!’ are:

  • Mental Health,
  • Access to Healthcare Insurance (Income/Employment) and
  • Education

What did we want to do? Build a coalition of key stakeholders including educators, business owners, municipal agencies, public safety personnel, residents and youth that would work together to improve the health outcomes indicated on our City Health Dashboard.

Our ideas? To provide targeted SAT/ACT preparatory classes, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) training and career exploration events to improve the likelihood of students choosing college or trade school, which can increase their lifelong earning ability and set them up for success in career and in life. We knew in-person meetings and events were out of the question for the foreseeable future. With thoughtful planning, we figured out how to adapt the trainings and classes to a virtual format.

Yet we still needed a solution for establishing a new community collaborative in pandemic times, as a number of households faced unemployment, fear, isolation and constantly changing priorities. However, our Dream Team stepped up to the challenge and we held our second coalition meeting in February 2021! We are fortunate to have key stakeholders and caring leaders at our table. Our Dream Team is going to need a bigger virtual table – one that is set with ideas and tools to improve lives in our Pleasantville community. Connect with our project director to partner in this work.

The Grantee Blog regularly publishes updates from NJHI-supported communities. Bookmark this site to stay up-to-date and share in the work of building healthier communities across New Jersey.
Fran Wise