What is a coalition?
In simplest terms, a coalition is a group of individuals and/or organizations with a common interest who agree to work together toward a common goal. That goal could be as narrow as obtaining funding for a specific intervention, or as broad as trying to improve permanently the overall quality of life for most people in the community. By the same token, the individuals and organizations involved might be drawn from a narrow area of interest, or might include representatives of nearly every segment of the community, depending upon the breadth of the issue.
Coalitions may be loose associations in which members work for a short time to achieve a specific goal, and then disband. They may also become organizations in themselves, with governing bodies, particular community responsibilities, funding, and permanence. They may draw from a community, a region, a state, or even the nation as a whole (the National Coalition to Ban Handguns, for instance). Regardless of their size and structure, they exist to create and/or support efforts to reach a particular set of goals.
- From The University of Kansas
The goal of the ZIP Coalitions is specifically to end the epidemics of HIV and HCV in Indiana. This is done by bringing each stakeholder together to identify the needs of people in each coalition area. Then, the coalitions move to action to build a system of supports and services to address those needs. This can be done when the stakeholders all
align their resources,
work in collaboration and
share best practices, experiences, and resources
in order to end the HIV epidemic and eliminate Hepatitis C (HCV) in Indiana.
How are ZIP Coalitions Structured?
ZIP Coalitions are formed based on Sherry Arnstein's Ladder of Community Participation where community stakeholders, including People with Lived Experience (PWLE) generate their goals and strategies to achieve them. The goal of the Zip Coalition structures is that at all times we work in the top rungs of the ladder, within the area of Citizen Power.
Zero is Possible: Indiana’s Plan to End HIV and Hepatitis C (ZIP-IN Plan) represents a collaborative
effort, informed by healthcare and community partners across the state, and is aligned with the
national Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE) and the Viral Hepatitis National
Strategic Plan for the United States: A Roadmap for Elimination, 2021-2025. The ZIP-IN Plan
presents an approach to collectively address HIV and HCV, due to the shared high-risk
populations, barriers to treatment, healthcare providers and community support networks, and
opportunities to develop a comprehensive, whole-person approach to patient care, counseling,
and treatment. The strategies within the
ZIP-IN Plan were developed in consultation with a wide array of healthcare providers, community partners, and people with lived experience, who participated in listening sessions, focus groups, surveys, and technical workgroups over a
research and planning period spanning more than a year.
Why a coalition?
At this point, you might be wondering why the ZIP-IN initiative was created as coalitions. After all, it sounds complicated!
The reason why is simple: the best way to change a community is to empower and excite community members to make that change. If we really want to end the HIV epidemic and eliminate Hepatitis C (HCV) in Indiana (and we do) we must mobilize passionate individuals and coordinate as a community to meet our goals.
Successful coalitions will help:
Bring about the changes members want to see. The collective voice of many people working together on a problem is usually much more powerful than a single voice.
Empower PWLE, especially those who haven't traditionally had much power. Improving the conditions which shape their lives can increase people's sense of their own worth and capabilities, helping them to live more fulfilling lives.
Increase self-sufficiency among community members. Organizing people to bring about change helps maintain a high level of ownership by people for their own destinies.
Increase social support. By bringing together diverse groups of people who are working for the same cause, people get the chance to talk and learn with others they may not have met otherwise. Both professionally and socially, community organization offers ample opportunity for growth and enjoyment among those who come together.
Promote equity in the society. When people gain control over the forces that shape their lives, it changes the balance of power in the community, spreading it more broadly and distributing it more nearly equally. That, in turn, changes for the better the circumstances of those with the least power, making for a more just society.
- From The University of Kansas