I believe every person and family wants to live a healthy life. I also believe public health professionals should work with those families to create social movements that can improve their environment and be sustainable long after the professional are able to work in those communities. Sounds simple and noble, but working with the community has become far more complicated in recent years. The successes of American Public Health Policy over the last decade have moved public health departments, foundations and academic institutions into a “success now” mode where the experts are racing against the funding and political clock to find the next “big” research driven policy victory. Even though community participation is recognized as a factor of success for sustainable planning and programs and long term policy changes, achieving participation can be a major challenge. Successful community participation in public health in both program planning and implementation requires overcoming barriers at a number of levels, namely the subject matter and competing community concerns. So what have we learned as consortium over a 3 year period? Have we been able to find a balance between community participation and the drive to achieve public health policy change? It took us almost a year and half to find our comfort zone. We realized early on the number of public health advocates, community based organizations and interest groups were yearning to be apart of a consortium that was inclusive and community centered. We also knew as a federal grant we are expected to provide positive program outcomes and community success stories on a bi-annual basis. We adopted a community driven approach that provided our community partners with opportunities (in person meetings, conference calls, and surveys) to create public health programs and policies that at best reflects the needs and expectations of the communities they are serving. Yeah I know every community consortium today adopts a community driven approach, but where other groups have come up short in getting real ongoing partner participation we chose instead to deal with this challenge head on. We chose to be upfront and honest with our partners. We said “we can be community driven, but we need to have real program outcomes. If not the $$$ to do this work disappears and no one wins.” So our planning discussions, under the guidance of our evaluation partner, were designed to show how the consortium’s proposed program and policy priorities aligned with the most up-to-date public health literature and public health policies being championed on a local and national level. Showing this relationship to our partners gave them the connection necessary to see their role and level of involvement in the consortium. It also allowed us to better understand which partner was interested in program, evaluation and policy. Everyone’s role was determined. Being upfront and honest with the partners at each stage of the program and policy development process gave us as a staff and them as partners the trust necessary to establish our flagship projects: the Excellence in School Wellness Award, NYC Play Streets, and the Fresh Bodega Program. Each initiative was formed as a result of community planning sessions that were centered on this approach: Develop a program - Evaluate the program - Present data - Develop an advocacy campaign. This approach has allowed the Excellence in School Wellness Program to positively impact health, wellness, and nutrition policies for 165 elementary schools in the NYC area, it moved the NYC Mayors Office to include the Community and School Playstreet program in PLANYC 2.0, and it provided 13 bodegas in Brooklyn and Harlem to be provided with new access to fruit and vegetables. Our approach might not be a framework for everyone to follow, but what it does offer is some suggestions to coalitions, public health departments, and academic institutions who struggle with community engagement and community participation.