"As CHW’s, people are always at the center of their work, therefore CHWs are the center of OUR work. Why? Because systems don’t make things run; the people behind the systems do. The Coalition exist because the risk
to the workforce is too big if we don’t." "
A Letter From Our
Four years ago....
a group of people in love with their city, now known as community health workers (CHWs),
took a step towards creating the change they wanted to see.
What once started as a “hopeful idea” has grown to be a membership group, an organized consulting body, and an independent, social impact organization providing services towards social determinants.
Over these years, The St Louis Community Health Worker Coalition (CHWC) has taken great shape,
though it hasn’t come without having to be malleable.
Our direction has shifted often;
our pace has increased and decreased beyond our control;
and we find ourselves working in spaces we didn't 'strategize';
we embrace this fluidity.
As a social impact organization working to improve the lives of everyday people - that we call neighbors -
it is important we stay timely.
The Coalition responds to immediate needs.
When you live in 'a community', you understand that the needs of the community are different e v e r y d a y.
As an organization, we chose to live and step with the neighborhood.
Our organization, the CHW Coalition, is the only non-profit organization in the state governed by CHWs,
positioned to support the scaling, sustainability, and leadership development of the workforce.
At the Coalition, we uniquely position CHWs, who truly understand the culture and reality of the people they serve,
as liaisons in our local community. This allows us to also build genuine rapport with leaders and partner organizations within St. Louis systems.
This is how we're able to make more effective full circle connections.
What’s the best part about what I do?
Illuminating what CHWs look like in real life.
In my role, I have the opportunity to center and amplify community experience and wisdom, across all domains of health.
Daily, I help neighbors turn their passion into a career – from grassroots to professional.
I'm privileged to engage a growing network of 150+ CHW neighborhood leaders and more than 40 organizations
to design a multi-faceted, grassroots, and legislative strategy ensuring the CHW workforce enjoys
long-term viability at regional, state, and national levels.
In short, I’m creating space to solution beyond survival, cultivating strategies that build people not programs.
Innovation sits at the core of our work.
We not only model what it means to work from the inside out, but we also support organizations who are attempting to do the same.
We value evidence, experience, and empirical knowledge as necessary contributions to public health,
and our culture of inquiry allows us to lean into a both/and approach.
It has been beautiful watching the St Louis region re-define what it means
to be a CHW,
employ a CHW,
and support a CHW.
Recognizing the origins of community health work falls outside the system,
it has been one of the most gratifying revelations to experience the region lean into
power building and equitable transformation.
In our region, we’ve been intentional to make sure CHWs have the privilege, opportunity, and access to work within, or outside of, any system a neighbor may engage; this includes health, social services, education, justice, civic engagement, behavioral health and more. We see through national efforts, as well as the work of our state, Missouri, that the CHW workforce is just getting started.
In the St Louis Metropolitan Area, we have over 150 trained CHW’s eligible for state credentialing.
This workforce is on the rise, but it requires the proper support not only to maintain health, but simply to preserve.
Allow me a brief moment to share a response, to two questions I receive most frequently, in my own words.
What is the Coalition?
What do we do?
The St. Louis Community Health Worker Coalition
(the CHW Coalition) is a regional backbone organization striving to
build neighborhood capacity,
institutionalize community leadership and decision making,
and advocate for long-term sustainability of the CHW workforce.
We are a grassroots agency that operates across all five levels
of the socioecological model.
The St louis CHW Coalition Infrastructure aims to help transform institutions into racially responsive systems that promote generational community wellbeing
while simultaneously building power and cultivating leaders in the neighborhoods of those same systems.
Here's a secret, you can often remember the answer
to this question by thinking 1, 2, 3.
We have 1 mission, 2 structures, 3 roles.
Our one mission is to scale and sustain the community health worker workforce; we do so through leadership development and the exploration of nontraditional workforce financing options.
Our two structures allow us to operate as a response network for social needs in the region, as well as a professional network structure for CHWs themselves.
Our three roles in the region are:
For those who know me, words of affirmation
are one of the top ways I send and receive love, so allow me to take a moment to do just that…
BOARD OF LEADERS
To the 9 individuals who stood beside me for over 420 hours volunteering time,
lending sweat equity,
sharing intellectual property,
and so much more..
THANK YOU <3
all to build this very organization
that we now call our own.
The 9 of you will never be forgotten;
your memory will forever live in this organization.
Thank you to every regional leader, especially our HEAL partners;
Thank you to those of you who have taken the time to learn about CHWs,
those who have shifted power in a way that transforms and creates impact,
and those who support the vision
of this Coalition, out loud.
IHN, STLCC, MFFH
A huge thank you to our institutional partners who served as the
anchor foundation and incubators
to this very organization;
Thank you St Louis Integrated Health Network for your unflinching championship;
Thank you St Louis Community College for your commitment;
Thank you Missouri Foundation for Health for believing in the vision.
Thank you to every single CHW who trusted me, four years ago when I arrived in St Louis,
to carry forth the vision you all had already
so carefully cultivated;
thank you for allowing me add to it.
Thank you to the St. Louis region
for being receptive to innovation,
yielding to change,
and being outwardly eager to see
what’s to come.
Come back and visit us soon
to see the reveal of our menu of services, theory of change, media and publications, the modes of our model, meet the team, and more. We will do our best to keep you up to date on the latest updates from our organization and community partners as well.
As a leader,
my purpose is pipeline.
Simply put, “communities change when opportunities in communities change,” as said by the St Louis Community Health Worker Coalition.
As CHW’s, people are always at the center of their work,
therefore CHWs are the center of our work.
Because systems don’t make things run;
the people behind the systems do.
The Coalition exist because the risk to the workforce is too big if we don’t.
WE DID IT.
We turned dreams into strategy.
Strategy into action.
Action into impact.
We celebrate this work!
I’m so proud of you!
Ciearra "CJ" Walker