What is a coalition?

Last week, a Prevention WINS coalition member and I participated in week one of a three-week National Coalition Academy training.  During the week, we learned about the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF), how to develop a community assessment, and how to create a logic model

One of the topics on the first day of the training was defining a coalition.  A coalition is a voluntary, strategic alliance to enhance our ability to achieve a common purpose by sharing risks, responsibilities, resources, and rewards. 

In the substance abuse prevention field, much of the work we have done is through programs.  A coalition is not a program.  Here are a few differences between programs and coalitions.

Long-term Outcomes
Coalitions measure success by examining community-level indicators for substance abuse.  Instead of measuring outcomes by the number of people who participate in a program, coalitions measure longer term outcomes such as rates of use among people who were part of the prevention strategy.

Multiple Causes
Coalitions seek to address multiple causes of substance abuse.  Coalitions look at root causes and address more than personal risk factors or single strategies.

Multiple Actors
Coalition actions are diffused and taken by all members with staff playing a coordinating and supportive role.