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NEK Community Health Equity, Supporting Infrastructure

Health Equity exists when all people have a fair and just opportunity to be healthy – especially those who have experienced socioeconomic disadvantage, historical injustice, and other avoidable systemic inequalities that are often associated with social categories of race, gender, ethnicity, social position, sexual orientation and disability.

  • Vermont Department of Health (VDH) District Offices: St. Johnsbury and Newport
  • District Director Leads: Heather Lindstrom (St. Johnsbury) and Justin “Tin” Barton-Caplin (Newport)
  • Designated Regional Community Groups: NEK Prosper! (St. Johnsbury) and Vibrant ONE (Newport)
  • Regional Backbone Organization: Northern Counties Health Care, Inc.
  • Integrator Kari White, Director of Community Health Equity


The backbone organization will provide the supporting infrastructure to coordinate work among partners and push forward the overall initiative.  Based on the experience of similar efforts across the country, a robust backbone function is a key success factor to sustaining Collective Impact.

For the duration of this Agreement, Backbone funding Sub Recipient will support principles embodied in Collective Impact 3.0.

  1. The mobilization of a diverse group which must include the District Director and “individuals from populations at higher risk and that are underserved” and may include funders, sponsors, and other community stewards to support cross-sectoral work on health inequities
  2. The facilitation of participants’ inner journey of change, using not only Sub Recipient’s own skills, but also relying on assistance and coaching by Padgett Consulting
  3. Processes to cultivate trust and empathy among participants, while cultivating trust and empathy among community collaborative members so they can freely share perspective, engage in fierce conversations, while navigating differences in power.

Backbone funding Sub Recipient will provide the equivalent of a 0.5FTE (20 hours per week) Integrator staff support to the Vermont Department of Health District’s community collaborative to enable its work to address health inequities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this work, the Sub Recipient will

  • Guide Vision and Strategy
  • Advance Policy
  • Mobilize Resources
  • Build Community Engagement
  • Support Aligned Activities
  • Establish Shared Measurement Practices

Details of the role can be found here:  Collective Impact Backbone Starter Guide

Backbone Staff (Integrator)

The Vermont Public Health Institute has hired Backbone Staff (Integrators), one for each Department of Health District, each to be contracted for 20 hours weekly for the duration of the CDC COVID Health Equity Grant.

The Backbone (Integrator) Staff will work as coaches and facilitators:

  • Use collective impact principles – a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication – to facilitate alignment among multisector partners
  • Assisting the community collaborative groups embed diversity, equity, and inclusion into the fabric of the local collaborative structure and operations
  • Assisting the community collaborative groups engage residents in meaningful and authentic ways
  • Assisting the community collaborative groups develop and implement system- change (not programmatic) strategies to achieve impact
Health Equity Grant Logic Model