Building Connected Communities: A Practical Guide to Combatting the Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation

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Prominent organizations collaborate to launch a Community Action Guide to Combat Loneliness and Isolation.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Foundation for Social Connection (F4SC), Harvard University’s Human Flourishing Program, Healthy Places by Design, and Einhorn Collaborative today launched the “Action Guide for Building Connected Communities,” as part of the Building Connected Communities initiative, to empower local leaders to create meaningful social connection within their communities.

Recent studies reveal that millions of Americans suffer from loneliness and social isolation, which significantly impacts their health and quality of life. As noted in the Surgeon General’s recent advisory, Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, only 16% of Americans feel very attached to their local community. Understanding the conditions that lead to these high rates of disconnection, the Building Connected Communities partners recognized a need for practical guidance on strengthening social connection at the local level.

“Local leaders are uniquely positioned to create impactful initiatives that strengthen bonds between community members, foster a sense of belonging, and improve collective well-being,” said Jillian Racoosin, Executive Director of the Foundation for Social Connection. “Our goal is to support local leaders with the tools they need to address drivers of disconnection.” 

The Action Guide for Building Connected Communities provides a six-step framework to involve local leaders and community members in implementing social connection initiatives. The guide also features case studies, a list of 20 promising community strategies for local leaders to pilot, and other tools to inspire action.

A series of community listening sessions throughout March and April 2023 informed the development of the guide, with special convenings in Atlanta, Georgia; Hennepin County, Minnesota; San Antonio, Texas; and Bangor, Maine, which gathered insights and actions from local leaders.

Reverend Ann Helmke, Faith Liaison for the City of San Antonio, noted, “As someone dedicated to creating a strong and healthy community, it was helpful to meet with other San Antonio changemakers to identify common values in our work and discuss barriers to change that we collectively face. The City of San Antonio and Compassionate San Antonio look forward to using this guide to forge new partnerships and strengthen existing efforts to achieve our community’s vision for a more compassionate and connected future.”

Atlanta may be the cradle of civil rights but we still have work to do on bridging community connection,” said Brendan Doherty, Chief Operating Officer for The Same House. “The Same House helped shape this toolkit because we believe in its potential: to give practical steps and promising strategies that changemakers here and everywhere can leverage for their communities.”

The Foundation for Social Connection will host a free webinar on September 28th at 2:00 p.m. ET to provide an overview of the Action Guide and how local leaders can begin using it. Registration for the webinar is available here. Additionally, on October 12-14, Action Guide partners will host their Building Connected Communities event, an in-person and virtual action forum for leaders working to address social isolation, loneliness, and social connection. Register in person here or virtually here.

Explore the Action Guide online at www.action4connection.org to learn more about advancing connection in your community.

To learn more about the Building Connected Communities initiative and how you can get involved, contact the Foundation for Social Connection at [email protected].

The Foundation for Social Connection was founded in 2020 with the vision for all Americans to have the opportunities and evidence-based support necessary for a socially connected life. F4SC engages in education, increases public awareness, promotes innovative research, and spurs the development and implementation of evidence-based models that address social isolation and loneliness and promote social connection.

Einhorn Collaborative is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to fostering social connection and cohesion in the U.S. We work with community leaders, researchers, practitioners, culture makers, and funders to help Americans build stronger relationships, embrace our differences, and rediscover our shared humanity, so we can solve our most urgent challenges together.

Founded in 2016, the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science aims to study and promote human flourishing, and to develop systematic approaches to the synthesis of knowledge across disciplines. The program studies a wide range of topics relevant to human flourishing, including family, friendship, virtue, community, work, forgiveness, religion, purpose, and meaning. Methodologically, the program seeks to understand the diverse forms of knowledge proper to disciplines from across the humanities and social sciences, and to better articulate how those various approaches might be coordinated and unified.

Healthy Places by Design advances community-led action and proven, place-based strategies to ensure health and wellbeing for all. We are strategic partners for communities and those who invest in them, helping turn visions of health equity into lasting impact. At local, state, and national scales, we connect community leaders with inspiring success stories, lessons learned, and each other to deepen their capacity as changemakers. Drawing on our experience supporting hundreds of community partnerships, we strengthen assets and enhance efforts to grow an enduring culture of health and wellbeing.

SOURCE Foundation for Social Connection

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