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Cultivate High Performing Collaborations & Partnerships

Testable Ideas

  • Name your program's specific needs and recruit partners that can meet them
    • Consider: community credibility, proven communication channels, staff on the ground, technical expertise, and access to data
    • Regularly evaluate your needs to identify new partners
  • Partner with organizations that can influence your audience
    • Consider: medical and public health, community clinics and hospitals, youth organizations, schools and universities, home inspectors, real estate organizations, insurance companies, etc.

Expand / CollapseStrategies in Action

  • WI partners with 16 public health environmental sanitarians to deliver its program. “They are certified professionals with local experience. They know how to reach people, have strong connections to local leaders and media, and because they bundle their messages and target them to local concerns, they have a great impact.”
  • NJ and the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which oversees the state's building codes, partner on Tier 1 radon resistant new construction (RRNC) requirements. "We develop the science on Tier 1 zones, DCA distributes information and builders pay attention because DCA is their regulator."
  • PA secured partners inside the Bureau's IT department and (at no cost) got an Oracle database with more than 900,000 geo-coded radon test results.

    For more information about PA’s powerful Oracle Analyzer tool, click here…

    The Bureau’s IT Department was assessing databases and they approached the Radon Program and said, "You have a lot of data here. We have this tool we’re testing out, and we’d like to test how it works by geo-coding your data." PA jumped at the chance to get their data geo-coded. A PA staff person who likes working with data was assigned to the project and when the IT Department chose to purchase the Oracle system, the PA program was ready to use it immediately. “Now, we can use the system to plot trends. For example, we can see tests and mitigations by zip code and tests by region over time. When we see spikes at different points in the year, we can measure the impact of our outreach efforts, like our PSAs. We have well more than 900,000 records now in the Analyzer and we’re still just learning all of the things it can do.”

  • PA partnered with the American Lung Association (ALA) to gain access to schools. The partnership has delivered access to schools statewide, in-school education and test kit distribution, science lessons on radon testing and results tracking, and a wealth of data on school-based outreach, including the number of test kits deployed and the percentage of those that led to radon mitigations.

    For more information on the PA-ALA schools partnership, click here…

    ALA’s program in schools involves presentations to school audiences, working with science teachers to incorporate radon into science lessons, and testing local communities, class rooms and even school buildings. ALA also tracks conversions from their school-based outreach so can report back to PA on the percentages of test kits distributed that were deployed, analyzed, and even the percent that ultimately led to mitigations.

Testable Ideas

  • To win partners, point out the overlap in your missions and be clear about how you can help each other
    • Approach partners with an offer, not just a request
  • Make it easy to say yes by asking for small commitments at first
  • Talk to potential partners in person; it's harder to say no face-to-face

Expand / CollapseStrategies in Action

  • PA got a graphic designer to develop a 3-D diorama of an installed mitigation system for free by visiting him in-person and emphasizing the impact his work could have on people's decisions to reduce their risk.
  • NJ needed DCA to get an RRNC requirement on the books so pursued a partnership with DCA for years, took small steps to build the partnership over time, and compromised with DCA to find a goal both organizations could agree on. NJ made it easy for DCA to say yes by providing an RRNC presentation for builders, showing that it wasn’t a big added cost, regularly sharing data, and training code officials to do inspections so DCA didn’t face a new burden. “Now, we send DCA an updated Tier 1 map and within a month, it’s in the code.”

    To read more about how NJ recruited DCA as a partner, click here…

    “Getting DCA to work with us on the RRNC requirement wasn’t easy. Radon programs just can’t take no for an answer; you have to keep pushing. It’s all about tenacity. Because it is a voluntary program, if people didn’t keep fighting the fight, we wouldn’t have what we have today. DCA handles all of the building codes in NJ so we have worked to educate and partner with them for years. We wanted them to adopt RRNC in all tiers but could see that wasn’t going to happen so we tried to make it easy for them to adopt the elements they could live with…We had to compromise to get where we are but over time, we demonstrated that we respect the DCA’s expertise by inviting them to the table to see how the scientific analysis that results in the updated tier map is conducted and by listening to DCA’s recommendations about how to work with the building community. We defer to them and recognize that they are the technical experts. We don’t try to compromise their position with the builders. We built a mutually respectful relationship… Because they can update their codes every month, unlike other parts of government that take years to make any regulatory changes, they can add communities to the list of Tier 1 RRNC-required building areas easily. And now we are working to expand the requirements to Tiers 2 and 3 because we see an opportunity.”

  • AL recruited radon testing labs as partners in data collection by "looking for something that's in it for them. We now have data on over 37,000 short-term test results from labs."

Testable Ideas

  • Make sure objectives and collaborators' commitments are clear from the start
    • Put agreements, goals, milestones, and measures of success in writing
      • Make sure more than one person at a partner organization supports the partnership
    • Continually assess both organizations' goals and plan for the partnership's evolution
    • Publicly celebrate success to build long-term ownership for your cause

Expand / CollapseStrategies in Action

  • Over 10 years, PA and the regional ALA have refined a strategy to reduce lung cancer from radon that builds on each one's strengths. "We'll discuss things at the early stages of planning and see who has which strengths and how we can best leverage them. It's never a one way street with our partnership." Their agreement stipulates that PA will provide resources, expertise, and materials and ALA will deliver school, web and field-based outreach. The results: ALA has distributed over 86,000 test kits leading to an estimated 4,800 mitigations, tracked test results by county and collected data on the likelihood of action in response to high levels. In 2008, PA nominated ALA for the CRCPD Radon Hero Award to recognize ALA's outstanding leadership on radon risk reduction.