Participating Communities

For communities with an appetite to develop deeper practices for creating system change, the Ventures project is a rare opportunity to build on work currently underway with a rich peer network of advanced partnerships across the country.

Bernalillo County, NM

Bernalillo County

New Mexico’s public health system is centralized, which means that a number of distinct county governmental departments and community organizations coordinate essential public health activities with input from the state. In Bernalillo County, where Albuquerque is located, the Bernalillo County Community Health Council plays a lead role in this regard. The Health Council acts as a central facilitator, connecting and supporting organizations and individuals working on health issues, and coordinating county-wide assessment and planning efforts. Bernalillo County is New Mexico’s most populous county, with more than 676,000 people—about a third of the state’s residents. The Ventures project is strengthening collaboration among the Health Council and a range of stakeholders, including:

  • The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, the state’s only academic health center
  • Presbyterian Healthcare Services, a locally owned, not-for-profit healthcare system that serves one in three New Mexicans, and the state’s largest private employer
  • HealthInsight New Mexico, a community-based nonprofit providing quality improvement expertise and services
  • Officials from the Bernalillo County government who oversee behavioral health and public safety programming

Together, and with additional institutions still to come, these organizations will extend existing relationships and advance a common vision, shared understanding, and clear plan for moving forward health transformation in the region. Ventures will support the Health Council’s deep interest in promoting equity, of particular relevance in New Mexico, which relative to the rest of the country, has the highest percentage of Hispanics and the second-highest percentage of Native Americans.



Central Oregon, OR

Central Oregon Health Council

The Pacific Northwest is known for its support and encouragement of healthy living. Central Oregon’s commitment to health and wellness is exemplified by the Central Oregon Health Council (COHC), which was established through bipartisan legislation passed by the State Legislature in 2011. Central Oregon is a geographic area that includes Deschutes, Jefferson, Crook, and Northern Klamath counties, and is home to roughly 150,000 people. The COHC serves an important role in facilitating collaboration, regional planning, and community governance across all Central Oregon counties to improve population health and coordinate health care services. The Health Council carries forward its mission in two critical ways: at the community level, leading work on social determinants of health, provider engagement, sustainable financing, and quality improvement; and also acting as the community governing board for the region’s Coordinated Care Organization, PacificSource Community Solutions (PSCS), one of 16 across the state. The COHC’s Board includes the county commissioners from the three counties, the CEOs of the major regional health systems and plans, chair of the Community Advisory Council, and other community members, including leaders from behavioral and oral health. When PSCS agreed to cap its profits and then had a successful 2014, millions of dollars became available to reinvest in the community—funds that are being spent to improve health and wellness in Central Oregon. These are the kinds of successes the COHC will be able to build upon during the two years it participates in Ventures.

Finger Lakes, NY

Common Ground Health

The state of New York has been hailed as a leader and risk-taker in innovation across the health industry, from Medicaid reform to healthcare delivery to cost containment. The Finger Lakes region, a multi-county area that includes Rochester, has been particularly adept at identifying and building promising partnerships to improve health care and community health, resulting in significant shifts in healthcare costs and outcomes, as well as broader community collaboration. A core contributor to that work has been Common Ground Health, formerly the Finger Lakes Health System Agency and one of the nation’s oldest regional health planning organizations, founded in 1974. The Ventures work in the Finger Lakes began with Common Ground Health acting as the coordinator for a new, multi-organizational team that aspired to work together in new ways. As these partners began working together and developed a shared understanding and vision for the region, they realized the enormity of the task at hand. It became clear that Common Ground Health would be better positioned to achieve success working through its long-standing networks rather than building new organizational structures. As it continues this work with Ventures, Common Ground Health will benefit from its enduring commitment, deep-rooted relationships, and a board of directors that includes community representation as well as executive level representatives from major businesses, insurers, nonprofits, and health systems.

King County, WA

King County

More than 2.1 million people reside in King County, Washington, including about 704,350 in the City of Seattle—the 15th largest metropolitan area in the United States and one of the nation’s fastest growing regions. Local government leadership is forward-thinking, and several initiatives have become national models for population health, economic development, and addressing health inequities. In 2013, the King County government committed to improving the health and well-being of all residents through its Health and Human Services Transformation Plan. As a continuation of that important work, the county’s current goal is to shift spending to focus more on systems that improve circumstances for all, rather than spending mostly on urgent needs. In an area brimming with energy and prosperity, the multisector approach embodied by the Ventures project has attracted a large swathe of partners, including the recently formed Accountable Community of Health, local philanthropic organizations, and a range of cross-sector initiatives such as Communities of Opportunity, Best Starts for Kids, Familiar Faces, and more. King County’s transformation effort has evolved to comprise two distinct groups: one aimed at generating funding to advance deeper work, and another whose focus is on establishing a more comprehensive regional strategy that aligns many of the initiatives that have been largely unconnected.

Sonoma County, CA

Health Action

Much of the world knows Sonoma as a celebrated wine region, but behind the scenes of this California county, home to about half a million people, is a modern-day “tale of two communities,” with inequitable opportunities to residents depending where they live. Working tirelessly to improve health and achieve equity in the region is Health Action, a multi-sector partnership that for close to a decade has brought a new and creative, data-driven approach to improving health and achieving equity for Sonoma County residents. Among its greatest accomplishments is the leadership team and governance structure it has established to advance change in the county. Health Action relies on the collaboration of a diverse array of players, including the major healthcare systems, local businesses, education, media, philanthropy, local government, elected officials, community residents, and faith institutions, with backbone support provided by the Department of Health Services. Such diverse participation helped Health Action create its current Action Plan, which has mobilized community partnerships and resources through a Collective Impact approach, focusing on a broad range of factors that influence health, including community health, health system effectiveness, education, and economic mobility. Building on its strong history, culture of collaboration, and involvement in the newly established California Accountable Communities for Health Initiative, Health Action will work with the Ventures team as it develops its next Action Plan, to position its near-term planning efforts within a long-term system change strategy for Sonoma County.

Trenton, NJ

Credit: Glenn Beltz

Trenton Health Team

New Jersey’s capital city has a storied past. Originally settled at the end of the 17th century, Trenton was the site of a major military victory in the Revolutionary War and emerged as a dominant manufacturing center in the 19th and 20th centuries. With the decline of industrial jobs, the city has faced challenges common to many urban centers, and today more than a quarter of its 84,000 residents live below the poverty line. Nearly a decade ago, the mayor of Trenton called for a plan to improve the health status of the city and increase access to health services, and the Trenton Health Team was formed in response. It is a collaboration among the region’s major medical centers—St. Francis Medical Center, Capital Health, Henry J. Austin Health Center—and the city’s Department of Health and Human Services. Together with a broad range of community organizations, the partnership takes a data-driven approach focused on improving the entire community’s health and reforming how health care is delivered, including robust community health assessment and planning efforts, expansion of access to primary care, improved care coordination and care management, and greater community engagement. Last year, it was certified as one of three Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in New Jersey. As part of the Ventures cohort, it will work to expand stakeholder engagement, articulate the value proposition for health system transformation in Trenton and apply lessons learned from the Medicaid population to the greater Trenton community.