What is the Community Health Worker Initiative?

Who is a Community Health Worker?

What Does CHWInitiative Offer to CHW Health Workers?


Our Mission

To enable community health workers access to education and skills training leading to sustainable jobs, living wages and career pathways, while promoting policies that ensure appropriate employer funding to achieve these goals.

What is the Community Health Worker Initiative?

The Community Health Worker Initiative is a collaboration of organizations committed to providing training, education and career upgrading for community health workers; to improving care in disenfranchised communities; and to decreasing health disparities in low-income communities.

The Initiative was initially funded in 2007 with a three-year, $1 million grant from The Boston Foundation's SkillWorks, a public/private workforce development partnership. Now entering its 5th year, the Initiative has expanded to include a career-exploration training called Community Health Work New Careers which developed under the 2009 American Response and Recovery Act (ARRA) and now continues with support from ABCD, Inc.

Who is a Community Health Worker?

(MDPH Definition of a Community Health Worker from website http://machw.org)

A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a public health outreach professional who applies his or her unique understanding of the experience, language and/or culture of the populations he or she serves in order to carry out one or more of the following roles: 

  • providing culturally appropriate health education, information and outreach in community-based settings, such as   homes, schools, clinics, shelters, local businesses, and community centers
  • bridging/culturally mediating between individuals, communities and health and human services, including actively building individual and community capacity
  • assuring that people access the services they need
  • providing direct services, such as informal counseling, social support, care coordination and health screenings; and advocating for individual and community needs

A CHW is distinguished from other health professionals because he or she:

  • is hired primarily for his or her understanding of the populations and communities he or she serves
  • conducts outreach a significant portion of the time in one or more of the categories above
  • has experience in providing services in community settings

What Does CHWInitiative Offer to CHW Health Workers?

The Community Health Workers' Initiative offers a number of key benefits to community health workers. Specifically:

  • Assistance with developing a career plan
  • Referrals to additional CHW training programs, including a new CHW
  • Certificate Training Program
  • Referrals to English classes or GED programs
  • Help preparing for and enrolling in college
  • Assistance in applying for financial aid
  • Help supplementing income with support services, including fuel assistance transportation, child care and more