Community coalitions have increasingly been used as a vehicle to foster improvements in community health. A coalition is traditionally defined as “a group of individuals representing diverse organizations, factions or constituencies who agree to work together to achieve a common goal” (Feighery & Rogers, 1990). Community coalitions differ from other types of coalitions in that they include professional and grassroots members that are committed to working together to influence long-term health and welfare practices in their community (Butterfoss, 2007). Additionally, given their ability to leverage existing resources in the community and convene diverse organizations, community coalitions connote a type of collaboration that is considered to be sustainable over time (Butterfoss, Goodman, & Wandersman, 1993).
Funders of community coalitions include governmental and non-governmental entities. The federal government often provides short-term initial funding to community coalitions to work toward important health goals that cannot be achieved by a single community organization. Foundations also frequently fund community coalitions and other collaborative partnerships to address key social issues. The presumption is that successful community coalitions will be able to identify new resources to continue their activities and to sustain their impacts in the community over time. Understanding the extent to which coalitions can be sustained post-funding will be important as the federal government continues to invest in innovative community-based strategies to improve the health outcomes of Americans.