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Shape Up Somerville is a city-wide collective impact campaign to reduce obesity and promote health in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts. A resource for collective impact backbone organizations, funders, and partners, this case study provides an overview of the initiative, along with lessons learned.

Top Takeaways

  1. Engage the wider community: Especially during the planning process, listening and taking community members’ opinions into account was critical.
  2. Enforce accountability: During the planning and implementation process, Shape Up Somerville used mechanisms such as memorandums of understanding and contracts to hold participating organizations accountable for their contributions to the initiative.
  3. Build relationships outside your “issue”: Shape Up Somerville found that the best way to get people excited about the specific issue of childhood obesity was to engage with the community as much as possible and get excited about other important issues in turn.
In an initial study from 2003—2005, the average weight of children in Somerville went down one pound in one school year, a statistically significant impact, while the weight of children in the control group communities increased one pound.