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Launching or growing an ACEs initiative? We’ve got an app (& tools & guidelines) for that!!


Of the tens of thousands of communities across the U.S. (cities, counties, regions and states), we think a few hundred have launched ACEs initiatives so far. Two common obstacles that initiatives run up against are:

  1. What do we do once we all agree that everyone should know about ACEs science?
  2. And, how do we measure our progress?

Today we’re officially rolling out new guidelines, tools — and an app! — for that!

Growing Resilient Communities 2.0 answers question #1. If the initiative’s goal is for every organization in the community to integrate trauma-informed and resilience-building practices based on ACEs science, what you can do is what the most successful ACEs initiatives have done:

  • Educate (every person and organization about ACEs science),
  • Engage (get them to join the local ACEs initiative),
  • Activate (inspire their organizations to become trauma-informed), and
  • Celebrate (tell stories, brag about data, hold summits).

And, depending on the size of your community, repeat that cycle hundreds of times! (When I asked Teri Barila in Walla Walla, WA, a pioneer in community ACEs initiatives, how many presentations she and her co-founder made in their community of about 30,000 people over four years, she said she’d stopped counting at 500!) Each of these actions has links to appropriate tools and guidelines.  


The ACEs Connection Community Tracker answers question #2. This is our handy new app that does two things that ACEs initiatives have been asking for:

  • It maps the presentations that your ACEs initiative has made, and tracks who did the presentation, to what organization and when, how many people attended, and identifies the sector and subsector. To accompany the presentation map, we provide a spreadsheet that lists most of any community’s sectors and subsectors; this spreadsheet also has a demographic filter, so that you can make sure you’re reaching out to all parts of your community.
  • It tracks — by mapping and analyzing data — the progress of organizations in your community that are integrating trauma-informed and resilience-building practices based on ACEs science. The tracker has 11 milestones that, if completed, will likely result in some significant change in the organization and/or its achievements (you can find the milestones in the tracker data tab of the tracker). Each milestone represents quite a few steps that an organization must take to complete it. The 11 milestones can be applied across sectors, i.e, they’re useful for schools, social service organizations, businesses, faith-based community, juvenile detention centers, pediatric clinics, etc.

The way local initiatives get their information into both parts of the tracker is easy, too: Just fill out the appropriate Google survey (we provide the initiative with the links), and the data will be put into the appropriate map.

The first community to use the tracker is Sonoma County. If your ACEs initiative is one of the 50 or so that has a community site on ACEs Connection, as Sonoma does, and want to use the community tracker, you can contact one of us and we’ll set you up. If you don’t have a community site on ACEs Connection, but want to explore launching one so that you can make use of the tracker and all of our other tools, including guidelines on how to organize your initiative, contact one of us:">Gail Kennedy,">Dana Brown (if you’re in Southern California),">Cissy White, (if you’re in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast),">Karen Clemmer (if you’re in Northern California or the West),">Donielle Prince (if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area),">or me. We’d be glad to help. 

And, by the way, this app, these guidelines and tools are free to communities. 

ACEs Connection has more than 16,700+ members now, and most don’t know that the network also supports local, state and national ACEs initiatives by providing space for community sites on the network. These sites are like mini-ACEs Connections. (btw, for those of you who have been part of ACEs Connection for a while, you know that we used to call the community sites “groups”.) Anything that you can do on ACEs Connection — post blogs and videos, add comments to posts, post events to the calendar, keep archives of reports, send private messages, host text chats, etc. — you can do on the community sites.

We’ve been pretty quiet about the community sites, mostly because we’ve been watching how members of local ACEs initiatives use — or don’t use — their community sites, and listening to what initiatives say they need, so that we can make them more useful. Some communities — such as Sonoma, Sacramento and Philadelphia — use them to support their community or in-person work. Others haven’t used the sites at all. But now that we have the new app, guidelines and tools, we think the ACEs Connection community sites can help local ACEs initiatives grow more quickly.

We also plan on doing more reporting about and from the local community sites on the main ACEs Connection network and in the Daily Digest, so that more ACEs Connection members learn about what a difference having an ACEs initiative can make in a local community, and how it’s easy to participate as little or as much as time allows. We think that will also inspire communities to share more about their successes and challenges, so that they can give a leg up to communities facing the same obstacles or learn from those who have conquered a problem.

Although today’s official rollout has been in the works for the last 1.5 years, the foundation for Growing Resilient Communities 2.0 has its origins in the first National ACEs Summit in Philadelphia in 2013. A few months after the summit, about 30 of the 250 attendees met to establish the National Collaborative on Adversity and Resilience (NCAR). Out of that meeting came the NCAR Proceedings  and the Community Resilience Cookbook. As part of a series of case studies that were written for the cookbook, we worked with Leslie Lieberman, Carolyn Smith-Brown and Anndee Hochman at the Health Federation of Philadelphia to develop the Roadmap to Resilience 1.0 and a basic toolkit. It wasn’t too long before communities were telling us that they needed more.

So, in early 2016, we began planning how to overhaul the Roadmap. Along the way, we developed some new tools and apps, and began testing them out with some of the cities and counties that have community sites on ACEs Connection. We found out what didn’t work, what did work, and tested some more. A big shout-out goes to Samantha Sangenito, who developed the tracker (she can program in R!); Donielle Prince, who developed the surveys; and Gail Kennedy, who managed the project.

What you see today is phase one. We’re already planning phase two. And we hope that you give us ideas on what else you’d like to see added to the tracker, or what other apps or tools would your ACEs initiative grow faster and garner more support from your community. Phase one and phase two are part of a bigger plan that includes turning ACEs Connection into a national cooperative, maybe an international cooperative. We’ll tell y’all more about that as we develop the details.


Also, I want to introduce you to the entirety of the amazing ACEs Connection team, all of whom contributed to some part this endeavor. With all of them, ACEs Connection is doing some very useful work for the ACEs movement. I am so lucky that they agreed to work with me: Dana Brown, community facilitator for Southern California; Karen Clemmer, community facilitator for Northern California and the West; Alicia Doktor, network manager; Gail Kennedy, program lead; Val Krist, graphic designer; Emerald Montgomery, resource center lead; Sylvia Paull, marketing analyst and writer; Elizabeth Prewitt, policy analyst; Donielle Prince, community facilitator for the San Francisco Bay Area; Samantha Sangenito, data science & systems lead; Cissy White, community facilitator for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region.

And finally, none of this would be happening without our incredible funders: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The California Endowment, The Lisa & John Pritzker Family Fund, and The George Sarlo Foundation. Thank you so much.


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  • TeamACEs
  • Atracker

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Comments (4)

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Jocelyn Goldblatt posted:

I would really like to start an initiative and set up a site, but I am not getting responses to my emails. I'm not even sure they're getting to anyone!


I sent a private message as well. I'm in New England and would be glad to talk. Let's set up a time to meet via email. I look forward to speaking with you. Cissy


This is epic, exciting, energizing and inspiring news. Way to go!  Better still: way to go and keep on going  -- in ways that are measurable, accountable, replicable, sustainable! 

High fives all around. (And that is gentle, happy, palm-to-palm pats, not hand-stinging slaps.)

Thank you for this work. I am thrilled to look through the resources, download the app and share the news!



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