Communication Mechanisms: Internal

The NPO created strategic communication mechanisms that allowed for Alliance leadership engagement, involvement, and facilitation of cross-site learning. The communications team and regional support designed and carried out this work collaboratively.

Monthly calls with Project Directors: Once a month, the NPO facilitated a one-hour conference call with the Project Directors, which covered NPO updates, Foundation updates, as well as additional items suggested by Project Directors.  A portion of the call was devoted to an open discussion during which Project Directors could bring up any topic to address with their peers.

The purpose of such dedicated time for communicating across the program sites was to ensure clear and trusted channels of communication. Information was shared downstream by the NPO to support the success of and guide the Alliances’ work and to convey programmatic updates and information to the Alliances. At the same time, information flowed upstream from the Project Directors to the NPO to inform the provision of technical assistance and share learnings, progress, and challenges. Calls also provided regular opportunity for the NPO to pose questions and glean feedback from Project Directors on ideas or changes under consideration, and to inform plans in a timely, transparent manner. The group format for this exchange of information also allowed for cross-stream sharing—Project Directors heard firsthand about the efforts underway in other Alliances, greatly increasing the frequency and success of peer learning.

In-Person Meetings

National Meetings: The NPO planned and ran two in-person meetings every calendar year for Alliance staff and stakeholders. These national meetings were learning opportunities for the Alliances and incorporated sessions with expert panelists speaking about relevant issues, hands-on workshops for skill-building, plenary sessions meant to inform and inspire, and many networking opportunities. Each portion of the meeting was thoughtfully planned to make sure Alliances had the opportunity to gain knowledge that was relevant and applicable to their work. National meetings were also a time where Alliances could share their on-the-ground experiences and lessons learned with each other, NPO and Foundation staff, and the local, regional, and national players in attendance.

The national meetings evolved in terms of both format and purpose over the course of AF4Q. Meetings were viewed as a primary vehicle to develop skills and capacity at the community level. Over time, content became less specific to health care and more focused on transferring knowledge and skills that would spur the success of multi-sector collaboratives. For example:


  • Leading without Authority
  • Leading Change
  • Power of Collective Impact
  • Art of Effective Convening
  • Interest-Based Negotiation
  • Science of Persuasion
  • Influencing the Power Base

Organizational Development

  • Cultivating Innovation
  • High-Performing Team: First – Build Culture
  • Intergenerational Workforce
  • People Planning / Keeping Talent


  • Working with Media: Amplify Your Voice
  • Storytelling Clinic
  • Twitter 101
  • Influence through Social Media
  • How to Give a Killer Presentation
  • Measuring Success in Social Media


  • Scaling Up Excellence
  • Taking It to Scale: If? When? How?
  • Partnering to Create a Movement
  • Retention of Stakeholders

Financing & Value

  • Beyond 2015: Showcasing Value of AF4Q
  • Calculating Return on Investment
  • Characteristics of Sustainable Efforts
  • Partnering with Grantmakers
  • Sustainability Through Adaptability
  • Financial Stability: Finding Value in Data

As the program progressed, the NPO increasingly engaged Project Directors in planning for the national meetings through representation on planning committees along with NPO and Foundation representatives. Through this mechanism, Project Directors were able to contribute to the content and design of the meetings—input that allowed for sessions and workshops to be tailored to the communities’ goals and stakeholder needs. By engaging leadership in such a direct way, the NPO enabled Project Directors to help shape meetings that met the needs of their staff, stakeholders, and communities. Additionally, Project Directors had the opportunity to meet in a closed-door session prior to the beginning of each national meeting. Two Project Directors—a different duo for each meeting—were responsible for working with the NPO to design the agenda for these pre-meetings, and took the lead in running the meetings while on-site.

Topic-Specific Meetings: In addition to the national meetings, the NPO offered a number of smaller meetings around specific topics, including a population health meeting and two sustainability workshops.  The NPO also supported meetings that brought together subsets of Alliances, including a meeting of the CMS qualified entities, a practice coaching training, and a seminar on integrating consumers into quality improvement efforts. The NPO proactively looked for opportunities to offer these in-person meetings by constantly taking the pulse of Alliance needs, interests, and broader national health care trends. Whether designed as informational panels or hands-on workshops, these topical meetings and workshops substantially contributed to increased learning and capacity building by providing Alliances with the time and space to engage in dialogue around pressing issues that necessitated focused attention.

Cross-Site Learning: Cross-site learning is necessary to support engagement and sharing of best practices. The NPO supported in-person and virtual peer-to-peer opportunities to bolster the spread of ideas and strategies to drive change.

Peer-to-Peer Opportunities: The NPO helped to coordinate and fund in-person meetings between subsets of Alliances around specific topics. These meetings enabled Alliances with overlapping interests or barriers to deep dive into these issues and move the collective and individual agendas forward. The NPO designed the guidelines for in-person peer-to-peer meetings to allow for flexibility in their focus and structure. Alliances were able to gather in groups of two or more, either with other Alliances or with non-AF4Q organizations working through similar issues. Although Alliances were required to submit agendas, learning goals, and a summary feedback form, they had substantial latitude in designing the peer-to-peer meeting. Depending on the content, peer-to-peer meetings ranged from formal panels and presentations, to hands-on workshops, to informal information sharing and discussion. The ability for Alliances to create their own format based on content and organizational culture maximized the depth of cross-site learning.

Virtual Learning Network. Given the geographic diversity of the 16 Alliances, it was critical for the NPO to support a robust virtual network to enable peer-to-peer learning. This was accomplished in a variety of ways including affinity groups, conference calls, listservs, and webinars.[1] Note that virtual learning opportunities were informed by lessons learned from hospital learning collaboratives.[2] One such opportunity, the Consumer Engagement Leadership Consortium (CELC), brought together consumer representatives from the 16 sites to share best practices and learn how consumers in each Alliance were working to improve quality. In addition to regularly scheduled conference calls and webinars (which were planned and lead by a consumer planning committee), the CELC also hosted informal open discussion calls and an online forum to encourage cross-site learning and engagement of information flow to and from each Alliance to support consumer engagement.

[1] To learn more about affinity groups, please reference “Technical Assistance Best Practices”.

[2] To learn more about hospital learning collaboratives, please reference Sponsoring and Implementing Hospital Learning Collaboratives.