Locally Recruited Lay Advisors Contribute to Community Health

In 1998, Freedom from Hunger, a California-based organization that addresses issues of hunger and poor nutrition, began the replication and institutionalization of a program to train lay health advisors in several Southern states.

They began this effort in 1988 by training lay health advisors in three rural Mississippi communities in an effort to increase access to health care services there, an effort known as the Community Health Advisor Network (CHAN).

Key Results

  • The CHAN program office:

    • Contracted with state agencies or schools of public health to implement CHAN projects.
    • Developed training materials and provided technical assistance to state and local projects, including six conferences.
    • Developed a monitoring system and conducted evaluations.
    • Produced a videotape and published a quarterly newsletter.
    • Was the subject of a profile in Health magazine.


  • In Mississippi and Alabama, CHAN projects continue, along with newer initiatives in Illinois, Texas, and Delaware.
  • The University of Southern Mississippi and the Harrison Institute for Public Law at Georgetown University Law Center received $2 million in federal funding in 1999 to establish the Center for Sustainable Health Outreach, which provides support and technical assistance to community health workers and program staff.
  • In August 2006, RWJF made a grant (ID# 055510) to Georgetown University Law Center to integrate community health workers into the health care system by creating a national network to strengthen and sustain their workforce.