A New Community Change Effort to Improve Health and Well-being in the Largest Geographic County in the United States: San Bernardino County California

Wednesday July 10th, Applied Survey Research met with 500 community stakeholders in San Bernardino County to present the results of their Community Vital Signs Data Report in the beginning step of a community engagement process to improve the well-being of the county. Applied Survey Research has been collecting data on the quality of life in San Bernardino County over the last six months and now those results are making their way into widespread community conversations about how to improve life in the county.

The project is known as Community Vital Signs and it was commissioned by the San Bernardino County Departments of Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Arrowhead Regional Medical Center with the participation of hospitals, volunteers, elected leaders, non-profit organizations, county agencies, businesses and officials from local universities. The data report that ASR produced launches a multi-step process over the next 3 years to move from data to action to improve health and well-being in San Bernardino County. The three stages of community engagement, each held at different locations and aimed at different populations, are designed to include widespread participation, inform and engage the community, and lead the way towards community improvement. The Community Vital Signs initiative has also adopted Collective Impact, a 5-step method to promote community change that highlights collaboration and data sharing between community organizations, stakeholders and other interested parties.

A July summit of close to 500 community stakeholders, including elected officials, was the kick off to the engagement process. The summit included discussions about the data findings, some of the key reasons behind the findings, and ask participants to recommend to Community Vital Signs which areas to focus on for action.

The second stage of the process will involve five regional meetings going through a similar process as the summit. Because San Bernardino County is the largest geographic county in the United States, the additional meetings will allow for greater participation from community stakeholders. Each of the regional meetings will have 50-100 attendees, allowing for more in-depth discussions and relying upon more expertise from local stakeholders.

The third and final stage of community engagement will be a series of small meetings with key subpopulations to discuss the data findings. These meetings will be led by ASR-trained facilitators.

Finally, the Community Vital Signs steering committee will use the feedback and input gathered from all 3 stages of their community engagement process to select the indicators that they will be focused on and measure over the next 3 years. There will be another community summit in November to select the community goals so action plans can be created to address each goal.

In our continuing goal to help communities use data to improve themselves, ASR is very excited to see San Bernardino County take the crucial step of turning data into action. When working with communities interested in improving quality of life, ASR recommends a 10 step process as a blueprint for change. Our Community Vital Signs partners are taking those essential ten steps.  

ASR is honored to work with our Community Vital Signs partners who believe that the community is the driving force for change. ASR shares their belief that a fully informed and invested community is the key to bringing about positive change. For more information, please contact Abbie Stevens at abbie@appliedsurveyresearch.org.

To view the 2013 Community Vital Signs Data Report, click here.

To view the 2013 Community Vital Signs Data Powerpoint Presentation, click here.