Go Austin/Vamos! Austin (GAVA)
Through resident led teams, GAVA or the Go Austin / Vamos! Austin Coalition of neighbors and community partners breaks down barriers to healthy living and strengthen neighborhood stability in Austin’s Eastern Crescent (Dove Springs, South Austin, Rundberg area, and St. John’s neighborhood). Since its inception in 2012, GAVA has activated over 2,000 residents and community leaders, enhanced or improved over 40 community assets and programs, and secured 12 million dollars for infrastructure improvements.
What factors are essential for effective cross-sector alignment?
- The coalition was originally designed as five-year, cross-sector intervention of organizations from the same community to bring “best practices from across the country” into the neighborhood.
- Their mission is “to build community power for health equity”, so the coalition emphasizes “anti-racist organizing”, advocacy, and grassroots leadership.
- Their grassroots governance structure is designed to “identify support for [an activity] up the chain and connect the dots.” GAVA’s engagement model included identifying resident leaders and building a leadership structure within the community
- The coalition created an Advisory Council in 2015 and hired an executive director. They are now governed as an independent organization by a board of directors. The advisory Council is comprised of a simple majority of residents and community stakeholders.
- GAVA uses process data to measure outputs/outcomes (“tangible increases in access to access to health food,” education, etc.).
- Key wins, site plan data, and map visualizations summarized in a monthly dashboard shared across all levels of stakeholders.
- Data is used to show “return on investment to funders.”
Finance and Sustainability
- The partners were all funded separately by the Dell Foundation until 2015, after which the foundation encouraged a joint application under one fiscal house. GAVA formed its own 501(c)(3) after the 5-year Dell Foundation investment.
- In 2018, GAVA received a $219,512 grant from Episcopal Health Foundation to continue improvements.
- Grants with unrestricted categories or general operating funds are preferred to allow for hiring more staff, expanding data collection, and trying new ideas.
Integration of Health Equity
- Organizes and mobilizes community power to break down barriers to heathy living
- Working on definition and measurements of health equity
Community Trust and Accountability
- Keeps the historical relationships people have with other philanthropic organizations front of mind
- Is intentional about language when reporting progress or applying for grants
- Develops local leadership to point those people will hold the overall coalition accountable
Measures of Success
- Mix of “tangible small results and big, systemic policy level changes”
- “If the neighborhood is getting what they want, then you are achieving your grant”
- Helped the community bring in $12 million in park infrastructure, lighting, and lowered crime rates
- Supported smaller projects like the instillation of gardens or delivered water