The annual Wellville Gathering brings together members of the Wellville 5 community collaboratives plus potential partners, investors, service providers, outside advisors and experts. The content and agenda for this three-day event evolves every year, as the needs of the Wellville 5 change and as we learn how to best support their efforts.


2019 Wellville Gathering

This year’s Gathering was held in North Hartford, CT, from April 29 through May 2. Teams from the Wellville 5 (W5) communities explored what it will take to shift long-term thinking and action among institutions, people and systems.

INSTITUTIONS: How can we drive institutional behavior change that aligns public and private resources for greater, more equitable positive impact?

PEOPLE: How can we increase community agency that builds local leadership and equity?

SYSTEMS: How can we create an enabling environment that incentivizes health and smarter, longer-term investment?


  • Share stories, victories and lessons learned with counterparts in the W5 communities and invited guests;
  • Be inspired by locals who are leading a renaissance in this year’s W5 host community, North Hartford, CT;
  • Build stronger relationships, new partnerships, and cross-W5 collaboration opportunities;
  • Develop strategies to improve how institutions, people and systems work together; and
  • Start to measure impact on the long-term health and wellbeing of the whole community.

One of the most notable facts about Wellville is that it is a 10-year project. Working together over a decade lets teams do things that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, like reshaping community conditions that cultivate (rather than compromise) our collective wellbeing.

Focusing on long-term outcomes can also help us see the limitations of short-term thinking. For example, maximizing quarterly profits (or consumption of Quarter Pounders) could do more harm than good down the road. Meanwhile, investing together in our shared success returns more value (more equitably and more sustainably) than acting alone in self-interest.

Of course, change is difficult and time (even a decade) flies by. The end of 2019 marks the midpoint of the 10-year, five-community national Wellville project, which ends on December 31, 2024. The annual Wellville Gathering is an opportunity to raise our gaze back to the horizon, and work together with renewed energy and commitment to daily actions toward long-term, equitable wellbeing.

The W5 are already leading the way! As detailed in our “First Four Years” report (coming soon), the W5 have been busy building partnerships earned through trust and strengthened by making a difference together. They are learning through their stumbles and successes. And they have started to measure their impact, a process that will continue this year as we co-design and implement a national evaluation and learning process through 2024.

The W5’s shifts toward long-term, equitable wellbeing are notable. To name a few…

  • Fostering agency among residents through Spartanburg, SC’s neighborhood engagement efforts;
  • Investing together in Lake County, CA’s Hope Center as a hub for county social and health services;
  • Collaborating across stakeholders to create a Regional Health Assessment and Health Improvement Plan in Clatsop County, OR;
  • Scaling the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) through local and national partners in Muskegon County, MI; and
  • Influencing state policy to reward long-term outcomes through North Hartford, CT’s role in developing the Health Enhancement Community Initiative.


A few notes from past Gatherings:

2018 Wellville Gathering

The 2018 Wellville Gathering was held in Muskegon County, Michigan, from May 14-17, 2018.

2017 Wellville Gathering

The 2017 Wellville Gathering took place in Clatsop County, Oregon, from April 17-20, 2017.

During the three-day event teams from each community drew up detailed plans for one serious, broad-scale initiative to be launched (or advanced) in the following 12 months. The plans were to identify a paid and accountable staff; a budget and funding for that budget; and clearly defined, measurable outcomes to be achieved over time. Almost four months into their work they’re encountering surprises; like any plan necessitating cross-sector collaboration, the plans they made in April were merely a start. See the related blog post and read their reports below:

Clatsop County, Oregon

What did you describe as the “one serious project” at the Clatsop Gathering?

Clatsop County, OR, is creating a plan, backed by grant funding from the US Department of Education and an Administrative Data Pilot Project grant from the Sorenson Impact Center, to add more high-quality pre-school slots for 3- and 4-year-olds in Clatsop and Tillamook Counties; we are also working on creating a trauma-informed community, with support from Care Oregon and a plan to seek funding from other stakeholders in the County.

How has your understanding of the project changed?

As we began our work with our consultants, Social Finance and the Sorenson Impact Center, we gained a deeper understanding of the many layers of complexity required for adding high quality pre-school slots through Social Impact Bonds. Clatsop County is a rural community and our project encompasses eight school districts across two counties with over 60 preschool/childcare providers. As just one example of this challenge, we need to analyze how school districts pay for special education, English Language Learner and other remedial services across eight school districts. Four School Districts are funded by Timber Revenue and Property Tax income that exceeds the state school funding formula, while four receive State School funding, adding to the complexity of analyzing spending.

What do you intend to accomplish toward the goal in the next Quarter?

We will complete the Confidential Data Sharing agreements with the 8 School Districts, NW Regional Educational Service District (NWRESD) and be able to analyze the student population for our baselines for student attendance, Kindergarten readiness, 3rd grade reading level and Social Emotional skills. We will also have collected data regarding the number of children, hours of service, cost of service and education of teachers of current preschools.


Are you having to deal with new partners in the next Quarter?

We had already engaged all the school districts and commissioners for the two counties. Each Superintendent provided a letter of support for the project and four joined the Advisory Steering Committee. We added a relationship with Department of Human Services. New partnerships are developing at Oregon Department of Education (ODE). Conversations with Oregon Community Foundation and Early Learning Hub Governance Council have led to significant introductions to leaders of a state level data sharing consortium. This may be critical to finding access to some data that is not available locally. We are challenged to obtain individual child data related to family income at this time.

What are you doing to work with these new conditions and partners?

Working with each of the districts to complete the Data Sharing agreements and obtain baseline data that comes from multiple sources. Individual meetings with superintendents and many principals have recently occurred as they return from summer vacation and prepare to start a new school year. Emails and phone conversations with the technology director of NWRESD and managers at ODE have helped identify pathways to efficiently gather individual student data.

Are you having to change the way you work with existing partners/conditions to move efficiently to your goal?

We are experiencing the complexity of working with eight School districts, eight city governments, 60+ Preschool/Childcare sites, five Head Start centers and many more complex data sources across two counties. Significant time is spent explaining PFS in order to collect data in a timely manner. Doing this as a new school year begins adds to the challenge of time needed to gather data.

North Hartford, CT

What did you describe as the “one serious project” at the Clatsop Gathering?

The Wellville gathering in Clatsop was our team’s first group off-site. Having become a Wellville member just a few short months before, we had only established a loose framework for the North Hartford Triple Aim Collaborative (NHTAC), and our first work was to recruit and facilitate a Design Team (beginning in mid-March) to help further develop the Collaborative. While many of NHTAC members knew each other previously, working together as a group was very, very new.

With that context, we spent two Design Team meetings leading up to the Clatsop trip discussing what area we might want to focus on for our “new or expanded” project. The theme of resiliency came up often and we decided to take that priority with us to further flush out at the conference. At the end of the week in Clatsop we had further become interested in the idea of resiliency and ACEs, but we agreed as a team that we needed to understand the local landscape before planning any work. Our “one serious project” presentation was based on the fable “Stone Soup.” Our skit illustrated how our work is focused on each partner bringing something to the table, that our combined efforts will yield something of mutual benefit to all NHTAC members and the North Hartford community.

How has your understanding of this project changed since the Clatsop Gathering in April 2017 (if at all)?

Our thinking continues to evolve in this area.  Much information gathering has been done (primarily by Rick and Gina) and is ongoing to understand the ground conditions of resiliency work in our community. In addition, we have also made a conscious decision not to “launch” projects as a Collaborative. The NHTAC value proposition is to act as an integrator, facilitating a wide range of health-promoting efforts toward shared outcomes in North Hartford. We believe the Collaborative impact is rooted in bringing together partners and being a catalytic force on a variety of high-leverage projects that will impact population health outcomes in North Hartford. We’re still understanding exactly what this means. But a good example of our value that has risen to the top of our action portfolio is the need for integrator support to bring a new grocery store to North Hartford. This is a priority project for the Collaborative because it has great health benefits (including SDoH) for our community and requires a number of multi-sector actors working together in a coordinated way to achieve success.

What do you intend to accomplish toward completing the project in the next quarter (by Dec 31)?

The main focus of the resiliency project by December 31 is to develop a point of view and establish if there is a workstream for the Collaborative in this area. For our “new” priority project, the grocery store, our work is to take the findings from the market study (due late September) and co-create a strategy with partners — led by Hartford Community Loan Fund.

Are you having to/expect to deal with new partners/conditions in the next quarter?

Yes. Central to our work in the next 3 months is to build our full Collaborative membership. We believe this governance work is critical to developing an impactful and diverse action portfolio, as well as understanding what gaps there may be in current efforts. In terms of the resiliency work, this means pursuing partners who are working in the space or have a desire to work in the space. We see core partner Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) as playing a lead role in developing our resiliency workstream. For the new supermarket, this means supporting financing/investment partners as well as working with the team to find an operator for the project.

What are you currently doing to work effectively with these new partners/conditions?

The focus of the NHTAC right now is to help make meaningful connections to advance the work that’s required to achieve the “triple aim” of better health, well-being and investment in North Hartford. This includes the work being done in the resilience space and on the supermarket project. While the projects are quite different, as described above, the NHTAC contribution is to be a trusted group willing to go the “extra mile” to make meaningful health improvement efforts in North Harford happen.

Are you having to change the way you work with existing partners/conditions to move efficiently to your goal?

Not currently. Our work currently is to establish deep and strong overall relationships with core partners. While we have a couple of mature relationships, with Trinity Health of New England and University of Connecticut, we are still in the building phase with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the city of Hartford and others.

Spartanburg, SC

What did you describe as the “one serious project” at the Clatsop Gathering?

Hello Family, which is a Pay for Success (PFS) project currently in development in the City of Spartanburg, South Carolina. It seeks to improve outcomes for young children and their families by providing a continuum of evidence-based services for all children born in the City of Spartanburg, from prenatal care through age five, and linking payment to actual improvements in families’ lives.

How has your understanding of this project changed since the Clatsop Gathering 2017 (if at all)?

We are getting to the real hard part – putting together actionable financial plans and the necessary agreements.  It will require commitments and risk taking from multiple stakeholders and plenty of opportunities for it to unravel.

What do you intend to accomplish toward completing the project in the next quarter (by Dec 31)?

  • Financial consultants (Sorenson Institute) and evaluation consultants (Urban Institute) will soon present their recommendations to local stakeholders. Hopefully, those recommendations will be acceptable to the local team and we can then move to drafting contracts by late fall.
  • Family Connects staff and Spartanburg Regional Health System (SRHS) will hopefully know by then whether SRHS is a fit to be the administrative home for Family Connects (an important element of the continuum). If not, we will have to move to designing an administrative home for that program.
  • Mary Black Foundation (MBF) has expressed openness to considering whether their current initiative, which funds levels 1-3 of Triple P (“Positive Parenting Program”), can be leveraged as a financing component of Hello Family. MBF, Hope Center, Institute for Child Success (ICS) and consultants should be able to answer that question within the next three months.
  • The third column of Hello Family (our early education goals) falls outside of the PFS work. On a parallel track, we hope this fall to develop a clarified vision for that.

Are you having to/expect to deal with new partners/conditions in the next quarter?

We will have increasing engagement with potential capital providers as our plans become better defined. We have one funder who is interested enough to seek monthly briefings and others have expressed general interest. In the fall/winter we will build those relationships which are likely to tweak our plans in some ways.

What are you currently doing to work effectively with these new partners/conditions?

We have monthly calls that involve updates for all partners; these calls are aimed at transparency and developing a shared understanding of the roles and concerns from each corner of the pyramid (i.e., potential stakeholders).

Are you having to change the way you work with existing partners/conditions to move efficiently to your goal?

Everything about this effort is brand new to almost all involved. There are no set patterns or expectations so there is no default from which to deviate. We are making it up as we go along – we don’t know any other way to go about it.

2016 Wellville Gathering

2016 Wellville Gathering in Spartanburg


W4 working groups at the Wellville Gathering, held in Spartanburg, SC, on June 6-10, 2016.