DASH, a national initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), empowers communities by sharing data across multiple sectors to improve health. In February 2015, the Illinois Public Health Institute, in partnership with the Michigan Public Health Institute, was selected by RWJF as the National Program Office (NPO) for DASH, assisting ten grantees in communities across the nation as they develop, implement, and evaluate multi-sector data sharing projects. By growing our understanding of data sharing strategies and disseminating an evidence base for the field, we aim to increase the number, capacity, and quality of community data sharing initiatives.
DASH’s initial focus was to develop a deeper understanding of the field by conducting an environmental scan. Through a literature review, key informant interviews, and a survey, we identified existing and emerging multi-sector data sharing initiatives for community health. The findings reflect a growing national interest in this type of work—which was made even more apparent when we received 409 submissions during the call-for-proposals for DASH.
DASH awarded grants to ten local projects that use data-informed approaches to address a range of public health challenges. The following grantees were awarded up to $200,000 each to develop and implement their projects.
In February 2016, 75 stakeholders met in Dallas, TX to launch DASH, setting the stage for a collaborative effort that identifies and shares learnings to move the
field towards action. The DASH NPO is guiding efforts to increase knowledge and capacity of multi-sector data sharing initiatives so that ultimately, effective interventions and policies are developed and implemented to improve community health.
Monitoring the environment
To deepen and refi ne our understanding of the landscape in which DASH and similar initiatives are working, the DASH NPO continues to monitor and analyze multi-sector data sharing collaborations to identify barriers, opportunities, promising practices, and indicators of progress. We are tracking existing and emerging initiatives and developing a searchable online database to connect practitioners to specialized expertise and resources.
Providing technical assistance
The DASH NPO is leading a learning collaborative to build capacity and accelerate knowledge of developing and implementing multi-sector data and information systems. DASH is facilitating peer-to-peer learning among the ten grantees, and has expanded its reach by creating a shared platform to convey findings with other initiatives. DASH is building a virtual network, which provides expert guidance, technical assistance, shared knowledge, and facilitation of stakeholder engagement across sectors.
Building a learning network
To extend the use and dissemination of evidence-based best practices, the DASH NPO is partnering with other similar initiatives across the country to co-create a nationwide learning collaborative called All In: Data for Community Health that helps communities build capacity to address the social determinants of health through multi-sector data sharing collaborations. All In is establishing affinity groups across our cohort of projects to cultivate peer-to-peer learning opportunities for those tackling common challenges or with similar aims. With a common goal of improving community health through multi-sector data sharing and collaboration, projects across the country are joining forces to broaden our understanding of the environment, develop practical resources, share lessons learned, and increase our collective impact.