The Foundation for Social Connection (F4SC), in partnership with Healthy Places by Design, was thrilled to share our Action Guide and engage in discussions with the audience during our webinar on Thursday, September 28. Recognizing that local leaders are the experts of their own communities, we developed this guide to help them develop and implement their own initiative plans for building socially connected communities

What does Social Connection mean to you?

We invited the audience to join us in conversations surrounding what they saw in their own communities. For example, we discussed what they believed social connection feels, sounds, and looks like. They also proposed assets to leverage within their communities for connection – like parks, community centers, and libraries – and considered conditions that drive community disconnection. You can find all word clouds and responses from our discussion here.

What are assets in your community that create connectedness?

A Community Perspective: Social Connection in San Antonio

Phil Bors of Healthy Places by Design held a fireside chat with Reverend Dr. Ann Helmke. Dr. Helmke serves as a liaison for a faith-based initiative in the city of San Antonio Texas and is a leader of Compassionate San Antonio. She was one of the leaders who were instrumental in helping the Foundation and Healthy Places by Design develop the Action Guide, as she served as a co-host during our San Antonio community listening session. (Learn more about the listening sessions we held across the country here.) She emphasized the importance of connection with a purpose and collaborative efforts. 

“We find that when we just start to open up the invitational process people really want to be involved in caring for the community and have a voice in it. So these collaboratives have really helped to pull people together in purpose, and then they become kind of magnetic that other people want to just join in as well. We call it the benefits package because what comes with those collaborative efforts are relationships with some of the coolest people you’ll ever meet that you didn’t know before.” 

When asked what advice she would give to people who are looking to boost social connection in their communities, Dr. Helmke suggested that they use the Action Guide.

“I wish the Action guide is something that I had 30 years ago”. She went on to say that the Action Guide provides a common language for everyone to use. She finished by saying her only other advice is to “Just start!”. 

The Action Steps

With that call to action, we then provided an overview of the six steps in the Action Guide. 

The Action Steps

Importantly, the process does not have to be linear – we welcome communities and leaders to use the guide in whatever order works best for them. Some people may be further into their journey than others. For example, Step 2 includes information on social connection that could be helpful to someone who is just getting started in learning about social connection, drivers of disconnection, and who is at risk. In this step, we also present the language of social connection – connecting terms like belonging, civic engagement, welcoming, and compassion to social connection – to recognize there are many ways to foster connection and community leaders’ initiatives may already be strengthening connection without them realizing. For those who are already familiar with social connection and want to take action, they can visit Step 3 to complete our partnership mapping activity to identify potential collaborators or they can read about creating a social connection initiative plan in Step 4. We invite you to explore the guide and use the steps most helpful to you!

Our Data Dashboard

We are excited to offer local leaders with a dashboard of data and trends on social connection for their very own county. Created in partnership with IP3, this interactive tool can help users find data related back to their own community so that they can tailor their efforts to be more specific to their community. Find the Data Dashboard in Step 3’s “Review Data and Trends” section here.

Our Call to Action for Local Leaders

As you explore the guide, we invite you to complete our activities; read through statistics, case examples, and strategies; and download a complete toolkit of resources to host meetings and build public support. Examples of materials you can find include:

  • A Personal Social Network Map exercise
  • 20 Promising Strategies for Social Connection
  • Advice from our Community Listening Session Cohosts
  • Presentation templates and meeting agendas
  • A Building Support One-Pager to distribute to stakeholders
  • An interactive map to pin your Community Listening Session to
  • And more!

With our goal to provide the most actionable guide that resonates with all communities, we hope you will provide feedback, recommendations, or share your own examples of the action guide at work!

If you would like to learn more about what you can do as a local leader, please join us for Healthy Places by Design’s virtual Local Leaders Network Call on November 28th – and feel free to invite your coalition partners and community members! We also invite you to connect with us ( if you would like to present the Action Guide to your community or build public support for starting a social connection initiative plan.

View the full recording of our Action Guide Webinar here!