SAIH Newsletter — March 2024

Graphic representation of a paper airplane in midflight


Please enjoy our spring newsletter from the Systems Alignment Innovation Hub, operated by the Technical Assistance Collaborative’s Racial Equity Action Lab with support from the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s national Systems for Action Research Program. Read on for the latest news from our Peer Learning Network, Free Technical Assistance & Consultation Services, Targeted Research Funding, and Tools, Guides, & Resources projects.

Team Update

We are happy to welcome independent subcontractors Rashema Melson and Lori Pampilo Harris to the SAIH team! Rashema is the CEO of Pain Into PURPOSE, a Black Woman Owned Business that helps to motivate others to embrace their trauma, find their lost hope, and transform it into their purpose. Lori (she/her/o’ia) is a public policy adviser and systems thinker, centered on housing justice and racial equity. Watch Lori’s awesome Decolonizing Framework presentation, interwoven with questions and responses from the SAIH grantee Community of Practice.

Presenter Lori Pampilo Harris appears in an inset presenter window.


Targeted Research Funding

SAIH’s Targeted Research Funding grantees — Community ConneXor, Mandela Yoga Project, the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, and the Washington State Lived Experience Coalition — are working to engage important partners in public health, medical, care and social services this spring. To prepare, grantees used the Values, Problem, Solution, Action (VPSA) model pioneered by the Opportunity Agenda:

  • Leading with VALUES creates broad points of agreement and shared goals that will resonate with nearly any audience.
  • Being explicit about the PROBLEM, and how it threatens shared values, creates a sense of urgency and connects individual stories to broader systems and dynamics.
  • Offering a SOLUTION gives audiences a sense of hope and motivation. The best solutions are connected directly to the problem offered, and make clear where the responsibility for change lies.
  • Assigning an ACTION gives the audience a concrete next step that they can picture themselves doing, and creates a feeling of agency.

Over the course of two Community of Practice sessions in February and March, each of our grantees shared their VPSA and made a “pitch” to the larger audience of our team.

For example, Community ConneXor shared its core values as:

  • Community stewardship
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusivity
  • Being system-driven, solution-oriented, and having transparent accountability

The problem that its project addresses is: Systemic racial drivers of fragmentation in human and social services funding, service delivery, and under-investment, which perpetuates inequities and continuously undermines health and well-being.

Community ConneXor is designing a solution to empower the community of North Nashville, streamline service access and delivery, and promote reinvestment into this community.

The actions the group will encourage, in partnership with specific systems, will be to:

  • Require systems to educate themselves about the history of what has happened to this community over decades of under-investment.
  • Support collaborative reform initiatives.
  • Proactively engage in policy formulations.
  • Create own “policy tables” and be at those tables.
  • Communicate with policy makers.

Tools, Guides, & Resources 

Tools and Resources marquee showing lightbulbCheck out our updated and reorganized Systems Alignment Data Sources Directory, developed to support practice-based organizations serving BIPOC and other communities. These online data sources are useful for a broad range of projects, and most of them are free to use. The listings are also compiled in a sortable online Google sheet, and a Spanish version can be provided upon request.

Research & Activities

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which funds the Systems Alignment Innovation Hub, is making significant changes to its work to center dismantling one of the biggest barriers to health in America: structural racism. For the past two years, RWJF has worked to develop new strategies that harness the collective power, wisdom, and resilience of partners and communities to remove structural barriers to health. Learn more about RWJF’s plans to confront structural racism to transform health.

Peer Learning Network

Join our monthly Peer Learning Network, a monthly forum for community-based organizations interested in advancing their work through research in public health, social services, or health care to share their systems alignment, implementation, and research testing ideas. The PLN includes organizations operated by and serving those from racially marginalized communities, those that are new to systems alignment research, and others that are further along, with expert facilitation and active engagement during learning sessions. Register to attend an upcoming session, or watch recordings of previous sessions.

The Systems Alignment Innovation Hub (SAIH) helps medical, social service, and public health providers in low-income and BIPOC communities to dismantle inequities and improve health and well-being for all. SAIH is operated by the Technical Assistance Collaborative’s Racial Equity Action Lab with support from the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI), and is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s national Systems for Action Research Program.

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