What gets measured, gets done.


“Groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity…or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people.”

—CDC Principles of Community Engagement

Everyone is part of a community, and all communities are deeply impacted by the systems that drive and influence their health. We depend on our nation’s health and health care system to meet the needs of our communities, but these systems reflect origins and a history that did not center communities as true partners in design, implementation, evaluation, and redesign. When solutions to improve outcomes are not driven by community interests, concerns, assets, and needs, they remain disconnected from the very people they are intended to serve – and ultimately, limited in influence and effectiveness.

The Assessing Community Engagement project from the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Leadership Consortium: Collaboration for a Learning Health System is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Guided by a committee of national and community leaders that reflect diverse backgrounds and perspectives, the project aims to provide community-engaged, effective, and evidence-based tools to those who want to measure engagement to ensure that it is meaningful and impactful, with a special emphasis on ensuring equity as a critical input and outcome. As part of this effort, the Organizing Committee developed the Assessing Community Engagement Conceptual Model, which identifies outcomes associated with meaningful community engagement.


“The process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity… or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people. It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members. It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices.”

—CDC Principles of Community Engagement

Forthcoming resources to support assessing community engagement include:

  • Impact Stories demonstrating how different partnerships have assessed their engagement and its outcomes;
  • Assessment Instrument Summaries, which identify that align with the domains and indicators in the Conceptual Model; and
  • An NAM Special Publication that outlines a framework for implementation and advancement of measuring community engagement. Get updates by joining the NAM listserv!


Read more about this project here.


Achieving Health Equity and Systems Transformation Through Community Engagement: A Conceptual Model


The Assessing Community Engagement Conceptual Model

While conceptual models and frameworks exist on community engagement, the Organizing Committee saw the need to develop a new conceptual model: one that outlines the factors for assessing the quality and impact of outcomes of meaningful community engagement across various sectors and partnerships, and that simultaneously emphasizes health equity and systems transformation for health.

The Assessing Community Engagement Conceptual Model is drawn from the active engagement and embedding of perspectives from community leaders, academics, researchers, and policymakers. It reflects what the Organizing Committee believes are necessary elements of meaningful engagement that should be measured and evaluated early and often. This novel model, which presents a range of outcome options and communicates the dynamic and transformative nature of community engagement, is described in depth in an NAM Perspectives commentary. The Conceptual Model represents an evolving and guiding framework to catalyze meaningful community engagement and radically propel the United States toward health equity through transformed systems for health.

Much more to come!

Additional resources will be released throughout 2022.

Assessing community engagement involves the participation of many stakeholders. Click here to share feedback on these resources, or email leadershipconsortium@nas.edu and include “measure engagement” in the subject line to learn more about the NAM’s Assessing Community Engagement project.

Organizing Committee for Assessing Meaningful Community Engagement in Health and Health Care

Learn more


  • Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, University of California, Davis (co-chair)
  • Syed M. Ahmed, Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Ayodola Anise, National Academy of Medicine
  • Atum Azzahir, Cultural Wellness Center
  • Kellan E. Baker, Whitman-Walker Institute
  • Chuck Conner, West Virginia Prevention Research Center Community Partnership Board (until March 2021)
  • Anna Cupito, National Academy of Medicine (until July 2021)
  • Milton Eder, University of Minnesota
  • Tekisha Dwan Everette, Health Equity Solutions
  • Kim Erwin, IIT Institute of Design
  • Maret Felzien, High Plains Research Network
  • Elmer Freeman, Center for Community Health Education Research and Service
  • David Gibbs, Community Initiatives
  • Ella Greene-Moton, University of Michigan School of Public Health
  • Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, National Partnership for Women & Families (co-chair)
  • Ann Hwang, Harvard Medical School (co-chair)
  • Felica Jones, Healthy African American Families II
  • Grant Jones, Center for African American Health
  • Marita Jones, Healthy Native Communities Partnership
  • Dmitry Khodyakov, RAND Corporation and Pardee RAND Graduate School
  • J. Lloyd Michener, Duke School of Medicine
  • Bobby Milstein, ReThink Health
  • Debra S. Oto-Kent, Health Education Council
  • Michael Orban, Orban Foundation for Veterans
  • Burt Pusch, Commonwealth Care Alliance
  • Al Richmond, Campus Community Partnership for Health (until March 2021)
  • Mona Shah, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Monique Shaw, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Merri Sheffield, BECAUSE, Inc.
  • Julie Tarrant, National Academy of Medicine
  • Nina Wallerstein, University of New Mexico
  • John M. Westfall, American Academy of Family Physicians
  • Asia Williams, National Academy of Medicine
  • Richard Zaldivar, The Wall Las Memorias Project


The Organizing Committee would like to thank Tomoko Ichikawa, Clinical Professor of Design, IIT Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, for her information design support on the Assessing Community Engagement Conceptual Model.

Supported by a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.

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