The Connect Project helps our grantees and partners build or enhance relationships with their members of Congress and other policymakers—relationships that will serve to further their work and position them as resources on the most pressing health and health care issues in America today. Our grantees and partners are talented, passionately committed people whose extraordinary work leads to sound solutions that improve the quality of life for people living in a member's state or district. The Connect Project highlights this important work with policymakers.
Connect participants have an opportunity to discuss challenges they face and lessons they have learned with their representatives in government. Connect also provides the tools and resources to turn those opportunities into lasting, beneficial relationships. Building relationships with policymakers can be a strategic goal for anyone working to bring about social change. There are tangible benefits for both participants and policymakers. Participants can educate their members of Congress and other officials about the health and health care challenges facing people in their state or district and show how local institutions and constituents tackle those problems and find solutions. They can engage policymakers as respected voices of support in the community, gain increased media attention for their work and goals, and ask for help in navigating specific, nonlegislative barriers and challenges. These interactions will often spur fruitful relationships with other community leaders as well.
Connect brings members of Congress in contact with a constituency too rarely heard from—those who are working on the front lines to address important health and health care issues such as improving health care quality, reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity, building the health care workforce, ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable health care coverage, improving the public health infrastructure, and reducing harm from tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
Connect is one of only a few efforts under way in the philanthropic world to educate policymakers about the important work being done on critical health issues in communities throughout the nation. To date, over a thousand RWJF grantees and partners have learned how to reach out to their members of Congress and engage them as champions of their work.