Community Health Worker

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What is the Community Health Worker Program?

In partnership with Morehouse School of Medicine, the National Urban League designed and implemented the Community Health Worker (CHW) program to promote healthy lifestyles among African Americans, improve their health outcomes and their access to healthcare and other community assets, and influence public policy in favor of community health worker models. CHW is a Signature Program of the National Urban League.

Chief Community Health Workers with a background in health or health education work directly with clients. CHWs also oversee workers from the local community with similar socio-economic and cultural backgrounds who serve as coaches to help clients carry out their action plans.

The CHW program targets African American adults who are at risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health issues. Many clients are currently or formerly engaged in other programs of the Urban League affiliate, such as job training and placement, housing counseling, financial education, seniors programs, substance abuse and prevention programs, or voter registration. By helping participants address a broad range of economic, social and psychosocial issues, the Urban League stabilizes and improves the quality of their lives and incorporates a holistic approach to health.

National Urban League affiliates and Morehouse adapted the CDC’s Power to Prevent curriculum into an authentic, culturally-sensitive educational tool for chronic disease management and community resources. It encourages and supports participants as they take ownership of their health, lifestyle behaviors and health treatment. It includes a strong mental health and wellness component that acknowledges the stress factors of race and poverty in underserved communities.

Where is it?

Buffalo Urban League

Greater Sacramento Urban League

Urban League of Broward County

Indianapolis Urban League

Urban League of Philadelphia

Lorain County Urban League

Urban League of Columbia

Atlanta Urban League

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis

Urban League of Greater Chattanooga


How big is it?

Thus far over 1,000 community members have been served.

What have Community Health Worker participants achieved?

CHW participants have achieved impressive retention rates and health outcomes in many locations. For example, in 2010, participants in Columbia, SC


  • improved health indicators: Blood glucose levels of diabetic participants dropped an average of 2 points; several women noted they no longer need diabetes medication. Participants’ cholesterol levels dropped an average of 3 points.
  • increased awareness of health issues: Knowledge scores increased 15% overall, with greatest increase in knowledge of strategies for healthy eating and exercise.
  • improved health behavior: Many participants reported increasing physical activity and making exercise more enjoyable. Participants reported drastic changes in food preparation and eating habits including: less frying, substituting turkey for pork and red meat, reducing sugar, using healthier oils, eating fewer sweets and more vegetables, drinking more water.


Who sponsors it?

NY State Health Foundation
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Eli Lilly Corporation
Pfizer Inc.
General Mills
Centers for Disease Control
Kresge Foundation



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