CHC Host Site Since: June 2010
Location: Northfield, MN
Janet Lewis Muth, Executive Director
The Rice County Growing Up Healthy Initiative (RCGUH) was organized in 2006 to identify the needs of low-income families through a grass-roots process and to engage in a new level of partnership benefiting the entire community. RCGUH aims to bring about health equity and social change through a three pronged approach: 1) by building neighborhood teams of leaders (community organizers), 2) by raising general community awareness about social inequities, and 3) by engaging in policy work to change local systems. Its overall goal is to increase levels of community connectedness experienced by marginalized families in Rice County. Specific endeavors include (but are not limited to) modifying the local transit system; coordinating language, literacy, and numeracy education efforts; creating a structure to provide accessible information about existing programs and resources; building social connections within targeted neighborhoods; increasing housing quality through weatherization services; and creating a plan for comprehensive mental health services in the county.
RCGUH is a coalition of partners. All of the organizations and community leaders part of RCGUH believe in the power of its grassroots, systems-level, and community education strategies. As such each is committed to ensure that the relationships and programs resulting from RCGUH continue in strong and meaningful ways; sustainability comes from systems change of coalition partners, innovation and ideas are developed in collaboration with partners and community leaders via the RCGUH structure. The VISTA will support this systems and policy change work that by its nature, will persist beyond VISTA year(s) of service. Lasting change such as reducing barriers and increasing collaboration will become integral to the organizational work of RCGUH coalition parters and endure therein.