Belonging & Civic Muscle as a Vital Condition
Belonging and Civic Muscle is about having fulfilling relationships and social support that people need to thrive. It’s about being part of a community and contributing to its vibrancy. Social support through friends, family, and other networks contributes to our practical and emotional needs, enhances mental well-being, helps us navigate the challenges of life, and reinforces healthy behaviors.
People with a stronger sense of efficacy, belonging, and social connectedness tend to live healthier, happier lives. At the community and neighborhood level, social cohesion strengthens social ties and engenders collective attachment. Higher levels of social cohesion are associated with higher levels of trust, cooperation and social capital, providing the necessary foundation for working together across groups and sectors, and building the “civic infrastructure” for community members to co-create a shared future. These patterns can create a virtuous cycle – working together supports stronger communication and develops a sense of connectedness and mutual obligation. Aa people in a community feel valued and cared for, they become more confident and willing to participate in the community, contributing to its vibrancy and affecting change. Alternatively, a community built in silos that does not encourage connectedness can lead to a pattern of apathy, and without investment to reverse these patterns, decades of community decay.
This new report is a joint project of the CDC Foundation and Well Being Trust, coordinated with Community Initiatives and ReThink Health. The report acknowledges that we are now struggling and suffering through profound losses and ghastly experiences of systemic racism. Our resilience and humanity are being tested, yet we have the power to change course together. Communities across the country have an immense reservoir of energy, courage, and imagination. Our best hope for changing course is to organize local and national action around a single, unifying, measurable expectation: All people and places thriving—no exceptions. The report leverages the Vital Conditions for Well-Being framework to provide a "springboard" for communities in recovery and resilience that is imperative to this moment in time.
Find the full report and the library of resources and tools coming out of collaborative work to develop Thriving Together below, and scroll on for more resources to improve belonging and civic muscle in your community.
Opportunities to Improve Belonging & Civic Muscle
- Cultivate community participation and leadership
- Resist the rise of hate and dismantle systemic oppression and racism
- Build vibrant, inclusive communities
Stories for Inspiration
Explore the stories below to read interesting, engaging content about what is happening at the state, national, and local level to improve belonging and civic muscle.
Explore the data tools below to find data and related resources specifically relevant to belonging and civic muscle.
Explore the resources below that outline one or more policies that specifically seek to improve belonging and civic muscle.
Action & Dialogue Guides
Explore below to find replicable, actionable content that is easily adaptable as a strategy to improve belonging and civic muscle, as well as guides and tools for in-person and virtual dialogues.
About the Vital Conditions
Belonging and Civic Muscle is one of seven “Vital Conditions” that comprise the Vital Conditions for Health and Well-being framework. This is a useful framework for conceptualizing holistic well-being and the Conditions that give rise to it, as well as identifying opportunities to shift those systems and drive transformative community change and improvement. It brings together major determinants of health, exposing how parts of a multi-faceted whole work as a system to produce equitable well-being. Learn more about the framework: