For Immediate Release
Contact: Media Relations, (202) 777-2509

Community Coalitions Can Create Conditions to Improve Health: The Spirit of the Coalition

by Bill Berkowitz, PhD and Tom Wolff, PhD

Washington, DC, July 2000 - Coalitions strengthen our communities by bringing community members together to solve community problems. Such is the premise of a powerful new book, published by the American Public Health Association, that provides public health practitioners and other public health community workers down-to-earth details of how coalitions work most effectively in everyday practice. First-hand accounts from distinguished coalition leaders illustrate through vivid stories, personal examples and lessons learned how coalitions can be built and sustained, bringing measurable, lasting results. The stories and the supporting text show how coalitions can be powerful tools to raise community participation and improve community outcomes.

Step-by-step guidance is provided for practitioners involved in coalition building on such important topics as teen pregnancy, AIDS, hunger/nutrition, immunization, tobacco control, substance abuse, violence prevention. Actual samples of materials coalitions have used, such as planning documents, membership brochures and publicity flyers are provided as models you can adapt for your own community.

"The Spirit of the Coalition offers wise counsel to the would-be builder of healthier communities" said Stephen B. Fawcett, PhD, Director, Work Group on Health Promotion and Community Development and of the University of Kansas. Reflecting the deep experience of the authors, it reveals the wisdom tradition of coalition work-including its core tasks, stories, and lessons from the field. The book's spirit, like that of the coalition work it illuminates, is ultimately an act of faith-that ordinary people, when acting together, can create conditions that improve health and enrich our lives

The twelve chapters include: How Coalitions Get Started, Coalition Membership, Coalition Structure, Coalition Leadership, Promoting the Coalition, Funding the Coalition, Pitfalls and Challenges, Coalitions in the Future and much more. Each chapter includes a summarized "Lessons from the Field."

Many will benefit from this book, including Public Health Practitioners, Community Organizers, Social Workers, Psychologists, Educators (useful as textbook with From the Ground Up), Clergy, Government Leaders, Nonprofit Administrators, coalition members and community leaders in general.

Authors Bill Berkowitz and Tom Wolff are professional community psychologists, both with more than 20 years of practical community-building experience, and who have both won national career awards in their field. Dr. Berkowitz is a professor at the University of Massachusetts, in Lowell, MA. Dr. Wolff is the founder and director of Community Partners, which builds coalitions in Massachusetts, and holds academic appointment at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


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The American Public Health Association is the oldest organization of public health professionals in the world and the foremost publisher of public health-related books and periodicals promoting high scientific standards, action programs and public policy for good health. More information is available at