Case Study: The California Endowment, Building Healthy Communities

Case Study: The California Endowment, Building Healthy Communities

Multicultural youth on MLK Day

Recognizing that technology would play a key role in the success of their multi-site Building Healthy Communities initiative, The California Endowment engaged ZeroDivide in a multi-year project to help them achieve greater impact. Our role is to identify ways to integrate technology into their efforts, and to help identify and address common information and communication technology needs across the project areas.

Building Healthy Communities is a 10-year, multimillion-dollar effort to help residents in 14 underserved, geographically diverse communities improve their physical, social and economic environments. To ensure maximum local engagement, a Hub, or central coordinating body, was established in each of the 14 communities, typically embedded in an existing nonprofit organization. The Hubs enable effective and efficient communication and collaboration with a broad range of organizations and individuals. 


To help the Hubs develop the capacity necessary to fulfill their goals, we used a multi-phase assessment process to develop a technology roadmap for each site during the initial stage of the project. The roadmaps contained a set of recommendations for increasing communications technology infrastructure, as well as individual and organizational technology competencies. This approach entailed both online and in-person surveys, community meetings and observations of Hub activities. 

In the second phase of the project, in partnership with Aspiration, we are building upon our initial findings to help each of the Hub organizations begin to strategically integrate technology into their Building Healthy Communities roles as well as into their own organizational programs and practices. This entails the development of tech infrastructure, training and support on topics such as social media, cloud storage, communication and collaboration tools and database management. Hubs are also awarded a grant to help resource and support the implementation of the their roadmaps.

Narrowing the Divide

Because of our efforts, there is better understanding of the capacity of the Hubs to engage their communities in the Building Healthy Communities goals. There is also better “on the ground” understanding of the value of communications technology to accelerate progress on those goals. This clarity has helped create both will and desire for increased access to technology and training. We are now working to lay a statewide foundation for a network of tech-enabled communities, organizations and individuals that has the potential to transform some of California’s most high-need communities.