Objective: This article reports on a qualitative study that contrasts implementation patterns across community-based public health initiatives, resulting in a construct for building the capacity of such initiatives in racial and ethnic communities. By specifying which capacities provide optimum leverage, community initiatives may increase precision in developing intervention strategies that are pivotal in producing desired outcomes.
Method: Cross-case comparisons were made on the basis of intensive interviews with key initiative leaders.
Results: Several capacities distinguish highly successful initiatives from those that had greater difficulty in realizing their goals. Leadership was the most important distinguishing capacity. Organizing capacity, or the propensity to provide structure, operational procedures, oversight, and activity formation, was also critical in leveraging community action and desired outcomes.
Conclusion: The study concludes that developing high levels of community capacity where it can produce the most strategic advantage is a promising pathway for mitigating antagonistic social factors.