Since 1991, El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center (El Sol) has served vulnerable communities in the Inland Empire, California, with an emphasis on mono-lingual Spanish speakers, immigrants, and residents with limited-english proficiency.
Through the years, El Sol has engaged and deployed highly trained lay workers as community health workers (CHWs) and promotores de salud. Research on CHWs and promotores endorse their effectiveness in areas ranging from improved prenatal care, reduction in child abuse prevention, enhanced social support, strengthening referral systems, improving self-esteem, and psychological functioning.
Community residents thriving in healthy environments served by skilled community health workers and promotores de salud who serve as catalyst for change.
El Sol programs are organized based on the SPECTRUM OF PREVENTION, which has been demonstrated to be an effective approach to organizing interventions. The spectrum categories are interrelated, and programs or interventions may overlap. The following explains how El Sol uses the Spectrum of Prevention to organize methodology
El Sol deploys evidence-based programs designed to achieve positive, measurable changes in individual knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and skills. This includes changes in CHWs and promotores as well as community residents who are engaged in a variety of programs that include rigorous evaluation plans to assess outcomes.
El Sol works to develop the capacity of locally recognized grassroots leaders who serve as community health workers and promotores who are representative of the community served. This mobilization has resulted in the development and implementation of Community Action Plans addressing a range of topics.
A hallmark of El Sol’s competitive advantage is its commitment to empowerment through the implementation of robust community education by CHWs and promotores. Because of the success with CHWs and promotores, El Sol is called to work with “hard-to-reach” populations to deliver impactful culturally and linguistically responsive health promotion and community education.
El Sol understands that synergy is achieved in collaboration with other partners and community stakeholders. In addition to being an active member of multiple networks in the region, El Sol has taken a leadership role in the Healthy Adelanto Committee, a collaborative of over 20 organizations addressing social determinants of health in the city of Adelanto.
El Sol works with organizations who are interested in implementing meaningful and effective CHWs and promotores programs, which require changes in internal organizational practices, policies, and procedures.
El Sol implements innovative cross-cultural and inter-generational strategies to engage, organize, and mobilize community residents, so that they are equipped to advocate for policies and programs that create and foster environments that support healthy lifestyles.
CHWs and promotores often see themselves as the bridge between community and social service agencies. However, their role extends far beyond the disease-prevention functions of community health. As grassroots leaders, CHWs and promotores also seek to promote human rights and social justice by empowering residents to advocate on behalf of their families and neighbors. Guided by a strong belief in the wealth of knowledge and leadership potential within their communities, CHWs and promotores provide opportunities for residents to learn about the issues that impact them and come together to advocate for their shared interests. For example, many CHWs and promotores programs have partnered with community members to address issues related to affordable housing, improving health services, equal education opportunities, neighborhood safety, access to healthy foods, and combatting discrimination. Through our training, CHWs and promotores also learn how to support others in establishing alliances with local stakeholders and civic officials to increase support for community change efforts.
El Sol has had verified success in achieving measurable change in knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and skills.
El Sol is a pioneer in training and deploying Promotores de Salud in the region, a proven strategy to improve social and health outcomes for children and families.
It is important to emphasize that it is not enough to simply label individuals as “community health workers”, and instead, it is imperative that personnel are highly trained to effectively connect with the community served as well as knowledgeable in delivering the effective health messages.
El Sol has the technical expertise to serve as a regional catalyst for community change using the Promotores de Salud model, providing training, technical assistance, and evaluation services to organizations interested in implementing effective programs using the Community Health Worker model.