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Community Engagement Process

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SAMHSA's Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center

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Intensive training and technical assistance (TTA) follows a community engagement process that assesses communities and determines next steps based on readiness.

Introductory Site Visit

Intensive TTA begins with an introductory site visit. During the introductory site visit, the Intensive TTA team meets with tribal leaders and community organizations. During this meeting, tribal leaders identify a lead organization and lead contact.

Community Readiness Assessment

The Intensive TTA team trains community members on the Community Readiness Assessment (CRA) through offsite TTA. The CRA assesses a community’s readiness and capacity to address prevention issues and begins the process of identifying community-specific risk and protective factors. The CRA provides a roadmap that shows where a community is starting in terms of awareness of the issues and what the next steps need to be, based on the communities’ culture, needs, specific circumstances, and resources.
The CRA has 9 levels, ranging from “No Awareness” to “High Level of Community Ownership.” These levels describe the extent of a community’s awareness and readiness on a particular issue. Through additional TA provided by the Intensive TA team, community members learn how to conduct and score CRA interviews. Communities can continue to use the CRA as a tool to assess other community issues.

The CRA Manual – 2014 (PDF | 4.3 MB ) provides more information about the community readiness assessment process.

Community Engagement Site Visits

Next, the Intensive TTA team conducts two site visits with each participating community. Each visit has a specific focus and goal.


  • Combining the Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) and Community Mobilization and Planning (CMP) into one event maximizes attendance and commitment from tribal leaders and community members.
  • The GONA is a Native-specific community prevention and strategic planning curriculum. It is used to promote and guide community discussions, support healing from historical trauma, and enhance prevention capacity and local prevention efforts.
  • The CMP process helps mobilize and coordinate resources to address mental health, substance use disorders, and suicide issues.
  • As a product of the GONA/CMP event, the community develops a Community Prevention Plan aligned with its current level of readiness that acts a blueprint for short-term and long-term prevention efforts.

Technical Assistance Site Visit

  • Shortly following a community's GONA/CMP event, the assigned Intensive TTA Coordinator will schedule a follow-up TA to finalize the community's prevention plan.
  • The Intensive TTA team identifies and schedules TA based on the community’s stage of readiness and the community’s judgment of its own needs and priorities.
  • The Intensive TTA team secures the services of any consultants or experts needed to assist with TA.
  • Community lead contacts and the Intensive TTA team work together to identify the community members who should participate in each training.

Sustainability and Mentorship Activities

The purpose of sustainability is to increase the capacity of participating communities for developing ongoing, sustainable, and effective prevention activities. Planning for sustainability includes evaluation and collaborations as key elements in maintaining successful prevention efforts. Evaluation helps communities gather the information they need to refine and improve prevention efforts over time. Collaborations allow a community to maximize resources and foster leadership and youth involvement. The sustainability approach includes conducting annual CRAs, adding new strategies, overcoming barriers, and identifying new funding and grant resources.

Local Tribal Leader Meetings

The Intensive TTA team will facilitate meetings with local tribal leaders to support the community’s momentum for prevention activities. These meetings allow communities receiving Intensive TTA to share accomplishments and lessons learned with tribal leaders to gain further support for prevention planning, sustainability efforts, and other activities.

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