Building Healthy Communities - Del Norte and Tribal Lands

Building Healthy Communities (BHC) was a 10-year, $1 billion statewide campaign funded by The California Endowment. The Del Norte and Tribal Lands (DNATL) BHC was one of only 14 across the state dedicated to creating and supporting health equity, services, and opportunities in our neighborhoods and schools. The Initiative ran from 2010- 2020, and a core team of community leaders continue to meet, fostering ongoing collaboration, breaking down silos, leveraging resources, building capacity, and innovating approaches to delivering better health outcomes in the community.

The Wild Rivers Community Foundation/Humboldt Area Foundation office served as the hub for the BHC initiative, which brought together diverse groups of residents, youth, community partners, government agencies and nonprofits all working to guarantee that growing up in DNATL fosters lifelong health and success for all. The DNATL BHC site continues to grow leaders that are reshaping the places that influence our children, our neighborhoods and schools.

While BHC work was cross-sectoral, some thematic areas the team coalesced around were:





Using Community Centered Design to Catalyze Systems Change

The BHC Initiative worked with ThinkPlace, a human centered design consulting firm, to teach practitioners about using human centered design to tackle large scale, intractable issues within the community. Empathy-based listening campaigns were conducted to learn about people’s lived experience, and to brainstorm, prototype, and implement solutions with community involvement. 

The process that grew out of this work in DNATL evolved to combine human centered design, targeted universalism, collective impact and systems thinking, a process we are calling "community centered design".

To help make community centered design thinking more accessible, BHC DNATL led the creation of a community centered design playbook:

Playbook Part A: Introducing Community Centered Design

Playbook Part B: Method Overview

If your organization is located on the North Coast and would like guidance in using these methods to design programs and solutions, please contact us at

See BHC DNATL in action:

Wingspan Media was a partner in the BHC DNATL initiative for many years and helped to document the process of using community centered design, as well as the impact of the work in DNATL. This video highlights how the work done through this initiative helped to transform the community, and how people felt empowered to be a part of that change.

Building a Healthy Community - Del Norte & Tribal Lands