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Jul 23, 2020 | Insights

Community Health Network Area 17 Joins TSNE as a Fiscally Sponsored Organization

TSNE is pleased to introduce its newest fiscally-sponsored organization, Community Health Network Area 17 (CHNA 17). As one of the 27 CHNAs in the state tasked with promoting healthier people and communities, CHNA 17 is a regional coalition of public, private, and nonprofit representatives that serves the 6 Massachusetts towns and cities: Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Somerville, Waltham, and Watertown. By fostering community engagement, elevating best practices, advancing racial equity, and supporting learning opportunities, CHNA 17 works to address the needs of the most marginalized members of their communities. The coalition is run by an active volunteer steering committee, interns, an evaluator, and Planning Director Stacy Carruth-Sesia.

Finding a Home for Sustainability

Timing was a factor in CHNA 17’s decision to find a new fiscal sponsor:

“Just knowing that TSNE works with so many nonprofits to do this gave us a lot of confidence in what you had to offer. And as we strengthen our work, having these structures in place will help us. We think about sustainability, and felt that TSNE could help.” — CHNA 17 Planning Director Stacy Carruth-Sesia

TSNE has had a long history of fiscal sponsorship and support for community health initiatives. We began as the Massachusetts Health Research Institute, a fiscal sponsor for public and community health research and demonstration projects in Massachusetts. Through this work, we recognized the need many organizations had for solid financial and administrative foundations that allowed them to focus on achieving their mission. Today, fiscal sponsorship continues to be one of the most recognized services we offer, and we are honored that CHNA 17 is joining us as one of the many community health initiatives under our umbrella.


Racial Equity and Mental Health

Originally formed in the 1990s to address the entire spectrum of health and wellness issues, CHNA 17 underwent collaborative strategic planning with community members when Stacy joined 5 years ago. Mental health was identified as one of the top issues, and the residents of the area requested an additional focus on racial equity. CHNA 17 found that it needed to focus its work to make an impact. The network provides resources and funds for community health initiatives, and also offers training, capacity building and racial equity learning communities.

“There’s this inclination to want to take action and get something done and sometimes the danger that somebody would bring in a training and feel it’s done. The real challenge is how do you keep this [racial equity work] work  embedded.” — Stacy Carruth-Sesia

Mental Health and Racial Equity Report

CHNA 17 also released a comprehensive report on mental health and racial equity in the region. The report summarized data collected through stakeholder interviews in the spring of 2017. Learn more about the Mental Health and Racial Equity Report.


Funding Community Health Initiatives

Mental Health Training in Black Faith Communities

CHNA 17 funded the Kingdom Empowerment Center, taking a three-pronged approach to centralize the importance of mental health, normalize seeking help, and connecting the faith communities in Cambridge with mental health providers. The center reached out to Black faith communities, offering a 3 to 6-month group program to senior pastors that allowed them to receive the equivalent of clinical supervision in the mental health field. For the first prong, helping these senior pastors engage around their own mental health normalized it for them, which in turn helped them to normalize it for their congregations. The second prong was the education of the clergy members about the importance of mental health. The third and final prong involved holding a quarterly mental health symposium. Learn more about the Kingdom Empowerment Center.

COVID-19 Awareness Comic with the Harvard Undergraduate UNICEF Club

In an effort to combat the discrimination that has intensified with COVID-19 and educate children about the origin of the disease and precautionary measures, CHNA 17 funded the Harvard Undergraduate UNICEF Club to create an engaging and educational coloring book. By following the main character Ellie’s day, children could learn about COVID-19 and the best public health practices to keep themselves safe and healthy. Learn more about the comic project.

Standing Up Against Anti-Asian Harassment with Asian Women for Health

CHNA 17 funded Asian Women for Health, a peer-led, community-based network dedicated to advancing Asian women’s health and wellbeing, to create a video about responding to rising anti-Asian harassment across the country as a result of COVID-19. Watch the video.

Get Involved!

Sign up for the CHNA 17 newsletter using the link on their website at chna17.org, or write to CHNA 17 Planning Director Stacy Carruth-Sesia at chna17info@gmail.com with questions about how to get involved.

Upcoming Workshop: CHNA 17 is offering a workshop on Thursday, August 6, 2020 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., titled: “White Providers Taking Action to Address Racism.” CHNA 17 leadership and community partners have had multiple conversations recently about how their coalition can most skillfully respond to the growing awareness of racial violence and build upon what they already do. They will continue to explore how the coalition can serve the providers of color in their network. They are offering guidance and support to people who identify as white who want to take action to address racism via a 2.5 hour zoom call for white providers to get support in taking action around racism at any level (professionally, personally). Learn more.