Mobilizing for Action: Building Capacity in Your Coalition, provides tools and tips from Wisconsin coalitions on how to start a coalition, expand a coalition, create shared goals and infrastructure, determine community readiness, identify key leaders/stakeholders, engage youth in prevention, and create a healthy, culturally inclusive environment to address the prevention of youth substance abuse.
Chapter 1: Hosting a Community Meeting
A community meeting can serve several purposes; it can highlight a specific issue of concern, draw people together in response to a crisis, determine interest in starting a coalition or enlarge an existing coalition. This chapter provides information on several types of meetings and key elements to consider when planning a community meeting. Tools and tips as well as resource samples and Web sites are provided to assist coalitions in the successful implementation of a community event.
Chapter 2: Building a Solid Foundation
Coalitions that are built upon a solid foundation share common elements. Strong coalitions cultivate a base of engaged community members, host regular meetings, have a clearly defined infrastructure and offer meaningful opportunities for people interested in the work that is being done. Member recruitment is deliberate and ongoing, which ensures that the coalition is deeply rooted in the community.
While small groups of people have the ability to accomplish effective projects, it is critical that coalitions recognize the importance of engaging the broad scope of the community in prevention efforts and actively work to recruit and involve them in the work.
Chapter 3: Strengthening the Core
This chapter is designed to help coalitions work on issues such as determining organizational structure and addressing the roles and responsibilities of membership and committee involvement. Key elements that will strengthen the core of the coalition are provided.
Chapter 4: Sustaining a Shared Vision
The Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) requires that sustainability be integrated into each of the five steps of the SPF process (assessment, capacity, planning, implementation and evaluation.) In the context of capacity building, sustainability means bringing the right people to the table to determine and adhere to a vision and mission that guides the coalition’s work. Sustaining a shared vision is the key to coalition longevity and effectiveness. Agreeing upon the big picture and what the coalition hopes to accomplish will provide clarity for the members as well the community.
Chapter 5: Engaging Youth
Coalitions often struggle with the issue of how and when to involve youth. Adult attitudes and behaviors toward youth need to be welcoming and supportive to foster youth involvement.
Chapter 6: Embracing Diversity
In today’s world, the image of the melting pot is no longer accurate. Think salad bowl instead. People seek acceptance of their differences. For some, diversity is recognition of skin color, ethnic background, sexual orientation, income levels, class or location. Others consider diversity to be acceptance of their individual styles or abilities. Still others may define diversity in other ways, and all are correct.
Communities include many different cultures. Even specific cultures may have important intergroup differences. Therefore, to be successful, coalitions need to identify, learn about and include members of the different cultures that exist in their communities. In this way, a coalition’s vision can better reflect the diverse perspectives of how the coalition would like the community to look five to ten years in the future.
Chapter 7: Empowering Leaders
Like the variety of the coalitions they represent, the variety of leaders and leadership styles is diverse. This chapter highlights practices and tools for sound leadership such as fiscal management, ethical behavior, collaborative leadership, awareness of group dynamics, ability to deal with different personalities and conflict, plus establishing and following procedures to help coalition members feel safe and respected.