Promising Community Preparedness Efforts Bolstered by Federal Partnership

A cook-off in Arizona. An art installation in New Orleans. A fire prevention program in Oregon. What do they all have in common? They are among the innovative community projects that got a recent boost from the partnerships among the CDC Foundation, FEMA, and CDC.


The Whole Community Approach to Emergencies. Government has and will continue to play a critical role in emergency management and response. However, recognizing the true first responders in any emergency are the citizens living and working in their communities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state and local governments have embraced a Whole Community Approach to Emergency ManagementExternal that aims to fully engage private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based and disability organizations, the general public (FEMA, 2011). To enhance work in this area, FEMA, working together with CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response’s Learning Office and the CDC FoundationExternal, is building a learning community and body of knowledge about programs embracing the Whole Community approach.

Steel Statue

Programs Selected as Promising Examples of Whole Community Efforts. For the pilot program year 2012 – 2013, CDC identified seven programs that reflect FEMA’s Whole Community approach. These seven programs find their homes across several types of partner organizations – four nonprofits, two emergency management offices, and one local county. Ranging from a web-based program that encourages individuals to take one small step each month to become better prepared, to a public art project that offers permanent markers of New Orleans’ 17 evacuation pick-up points, these programs leverage local community resources that can make a significant difference when a disaster strikes. The programs receive funding and support from the CDC Foundation and guidance from CDC during the program year to help continue or enhance their ongoing activities.

Partners Can Learn More about These Innovative Programs. CDC has been working closely with the programs through a series of site visits, phone calls, and in-person meetings to learn more about how the programs were built, maintained, and embraced by their communities. After completion of the pilot program in the fall of 2013, CDC will produce a formal report summarizing best practice findings that will be shared with FEMA and relevant stakeholders. In addition, CDC will share these findings on CDC and CDC Foundation websites, and has plans to submit the findings to a scientific, peer-reviewed journal for the purpose of informing the evidence-base for theWhole Community approach to emergency management. Each program will also develop a toolkit to ensure that their hard work and lessons learned can be shared and replicated in other interested communities. However, much can already be learned from these pilot programs. See below for more information about each of their innovative projects.

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Page last reviewed: April 10, 2015