Founded in 2001 by graduating students from Project Jump Start, a community college basic certificate training program for individuals working in the area of health education, outreach, or advocacy.
With financial and technical support from University of Arizona’s Area Health Education Centers (AzAHEC) Program and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman Arizona College of Public Health, AzCHOW grew from a task force of 4 members to a 13 member steering committee.
In 2003 AzCHOW hosted the first state wide community health worker training conference in Arizona. The conference included AzCHOW’s first annual business meeting, during which, the AzCHOW membership elected their first Board of Directors. Officers of the corporation-to-be were subsequently chosen by the new Board of Directors, four of whom were founding AzCHOW members. During the meeting, Belen Feather, Elsa Cocoa, Cynthia Thomas, and Nancy Collyer, were recognized for the work they had done to make AzCHOW what it is today.
Since then, AzCHOW has led Arizona’s grass roots movement to unite and strengthen the CHW workforce through training opportunities, advocacy, partnership building and policy development. Today, AzCHOW’s membership includes community health workers, promotoras de salud, community health representatives, lay health workers, community health advisors, and many other titles.
In 2014, AzCHOW partnered with the Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center and other partners to establish the Arizona Community Health Workers Network. Funded by the US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Network Planning Grant Program, the Network has four objectives:
- To establish operating procedures for membership, leadership and decision-making;
- To produce a Strategic Plan to guide our work over the next 5 years;
- To develop a Sustainability & Business Plan for Network programs and services; and
- To assess CHW workforce capacity both to expand access to health services and to integrate CHWs into the primary health service delivery system within our State.