Greater Northside Health Collaborative (BUILD 2.0)

Originally an initiative of the BUILD Health Challenge, the Greater Northside Health Collaborative was convened to address upstream health and safety issues including building a safe environment, reducing crime, ensuring healthy homes, and implementing food-as-health and excercise-as-medicine or residents of the Near Northside neighborhood.

What factors are essential for effective cross-sector alignment?

Shared Purpose

  • They have three priorities: (1) increase quality physical and mental health care access, (2) expand active living resources and culture, and (3) increase food security and healthy food access.
  • Partners became community allies that protect, educate, and address unmet needs together, not individually.
  • Various organizations were striving for the same goals, systems, and data initially. It was a matter of collaborating to align these systems and improve neighborhoods.


  • Three main organizations (community-based nonprofit Avenue CDC, Memorial Hermann, Houston Health Department) initially worked together to lead the collaborative. Currently, Avenue is the only organization leading the collaboration.
  • Hospitals, health departments, and community-based organizations are needed to establish a common language to describe the work.
  • Staff turnover at membership organizations made governance challenging.


  • The health department and hospital partner (Memorial Hermann) collected outcome data and took on the role of data management due to capacity.
  • The team worked with the Community Design Resource Center (CDRC) at the University of Houston to share data with residents and hosted a Community Health Summit to present findings.
  • Fifty organizations with different metrics make it a challenge to measure outcomes and data.

Finance and Sustainability

  • Initial funding came from BUILD ($250,000) and matched funds from Memorial Hermann, followed by ad hoc funding (BUILD Opportunity Fund Award) for past BUILD awardees.
  • Without substantial financial backing, the coalition could not have established partnerships with large organizations like health departments and hospital systems.

Integration of Health Equity

  • Trying to find a definition that “fits the community”
  • Built into priorities
  • Uses the Northline Health Equity Plan for the Northline/Northside community “to  transform education, economic development, family wealth, health, housing, infrastructure, parks, community amenities, and safety in Northline—and metrics to measure success over time”

Community Trust and Accountability

  • Builds deep relationships with elected officials and other partners that can build up the work
  • Produces annual reports of work accomplished with convenings where the community is invited to provide feedback and recommend improvements

Measures of Success

  • Health and safety measures, including: creating safe public spaces; identifying hot spots; creating policy changes; improving the built environment, such as sidewalks, truck routes, and lighting; ensuring healthy homes through assessments, remediation, and repair; and utilizing technology to collect, analyze, and share data
  • Comprehensive action plan: Near Northside Quality of Agreement Plan to build a sustainable and healthy community in the Near Northside neighborhood

Outcomes Achieved

  • Established a lead abatement project and created partnerships with local hospitals for its “Health Day Initiative”