This website is dedicated to CORE Group’s past, present and future. Every month of 2017 we will feature a “milestone” from the last 20 years. Enjoy the history of collaboration and accomplishments, and look forward with us as we embark on the next phase of CORE Group’s strategy to improve and expand community health practices for underserved populations.

August Milestone: Meetings/Conferences

Since its inception, CORE Group has hosted two major in-person gatherings each year –traditionally a two-day meeting in the fall and a week-long meeting in the spring.

As CORE Group evolved beyond its original purpose of convening NGO grantees of USAID’s Child Survival and Health Grants Program, the meetings expanded as well,  attracting universities, private sector, donors, UN, civil society, etc.

From the early 2000s to the early 2010s, the average number of attendees doubled, and in 2013, we renamed the “Meetings” to “Global Health Practitioner Conferences” to reflect their growing caliber.

“The conversations were very thought provoking and invoked deep discussion and reflection. The [Spring 2014] conference provided a unique platform for global health practitioners to learn from each other and share experiences in a unique way. I found the conference to be excellent, and I’m already looking forward to the fall conference!” – Elizabeth Romanoff Silva, USAID

The conferences provide state-of-the-art global health information, engage our International Community Health Network in dialogue to share innovations and move key issues forward, develop new relationships and partnerships through networking, build member skills, and develop working group plans and activities.

“This is my first CORE Goup conference [Spring 2016], and what’s been amazing is to feel such a sense of camaraderie with people that are doing really important work all across the globe, and to have a sense that there’s a team of us working toward the same outcomes for kids.” – Maureen Dykinga, SPOON Foundation

Below is a list of all the meetings and conferences in our records, including links to reports for all in the last several years.

July Milestone: CORE Group Polio Project

The CORE Group Polio Project (CGPP) is a multi-country, multi-partner initiative providing financial support and on-the-ground technical guidance to strengthen host country efforts to eradicate polio.

CGPP began in 1999 with USAID-funded grants to international and national NGOs to support polio eradication by mobilizing communities to participate in immunization campaigns, routine immunization, and Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance.

The original idea for the project came from USAID’s Ellyn Ogden, and the inception of CORE Group around the same time played a direct role in CGPP’s development. Learn more in this video:


CORE Group’s proven Secretariat Model was first developed through CGPP.

Each CGPP country has their own secretariat – a small team of neutral technical advisors, independent from any one implementing partner.

The secretariat facilitates communication, coordination, and transparent decision-making among all partners – unifying the community-level expertise of international and local NGOs with the knowledge and strategies of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners.

Through this model, the countries effectively coordinate and promote civil society engagement in polio eradication, while simultaneously injecting a crucial community-level component through the coordinated activities of thousands of community health workers.

Learn more about the Secretariat Model:


When CGPP started in 1999, polio was endemic in dozens of countries with thousands of new cases arising annually.  Since then, CGPP has worked with over a dozen international NGOS and more than 50 local NGOs to effectively implement polio eradication activities in the hardest-to-reach areas of Angola, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Nepal, Nigeria, Uganda, South Sudan and Bangladesh.

Through the dedication and hard work of CGPP, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and thousands of volunteers, polio was reduced to three endemic countries and only 37 total cases in 2016.

With this incredible success and momentum, we may see the final case of wild polio virus in the world in 2017!


June Milestone: The TOPS Program

Since 2010, CORE Group has been a partner on The TOPS Program, a USAID/Food for Peace (FFP)-funded program that builds the capacity of FFP grantees and improves the quality of implementation through fostering collaboration, innovation, and knowledge sharing around food security and nutrition best practices.

CORE Group leads the knowledge management team at TOPS and runs the project’s open community of practice – The Food Security and Nutrition (FSN) Network.

Learn more about CORE Group’s role over the last seven years:

CORE Group’s Contributions to TOPS

Successes, Challenges, and the Way Forward: Seven Years of Community Building

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The TOPS Program is now in its seventh and final year, and is hosting its final Knowledge Sharing Meeting in July 2017. At this capstone event, the wider food security and nutrition community will reflect upon the knowledge gained and shared through TOPS while continuing to collaborate and share knowledge in order to improve development food assistance programming.

Learn more and register.

May Milestone: USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Projects

In its early years, CORE Group worked closely with USAID and the Child Survival Technical Support Project to provide technical support to NGO grantees of the Child Survival and Health Grants Program (CSHGP).

In 2008, USAID combined the Child Survival Technical Support Project and several other initiatives into the flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP).

CORE Group was brought into MCHIP as a sub-grantee to continue support of the CSHGP grantees. Over time, CORE Group’s role in the project evolved as USAID and partners took note of the value of our growing International Community Health Network for learning and dissemination, and CORE Group’s community health expertise.

When MCHIP ended in 2014, CORE Group took on a full partner role in its successor – USAID’s Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP).

CORE Group is an active member of MCSP’s Community Health and Civil Society Engagement team, working closely with other partners to institutionalize community health as a central component of country health systems, and connect MCSP with the broader global health community through our Global Health Practitioner Conferences, Working Groups, webinars, resources, etc.

Learn more about CORE Group’s history with USAID’s maternal and child health projects:

Below are several of the resources that CORE Group has developed or contributed to through MCHIP and MCSP:

And here are some CORE Group-produced webinars sharing key MCHIP/MCSP takeaways:

CORE Group and its members bring a unique perspective on household and community-level issues, community mobilization and demand creation that is complementary to MCHIP’s more national and health-system oriented approach.

– MCHIP Midterm Evaluation

MCSP staff at the Institutionalizing Community Health Conference in Johannesburg in March 2017.

April Milestone: Working Groups

Working Groups are the heart and soul of CORE Group’s International Community Health Network. As the main voluntary mechanism to provide leadership within the network, they implement activities relevant to CORE Group Members.

Read this month’s milestone post to learn more about the purpose and accomplishments of our Working Groups over the last 20 years!


Working Groups are teams of individuals from multiple organizations furthering the development and understanding of a technical or cross-cutting topic. The groups are self-organizing, self-governing, and adaptive entities that transcend organizational boundaries.

Collectively generating ideas and tackling issues at the periphery of the evidence base, Working Groups push the field of community health forward to demonstrate health impact on a meaningful scale.


You can read more about our current Working Groups on the CORE Group website.


Working Groups have evolved and changed over the years based on Member needs and global priorities, but one constant has been the development of many state-of-the-art tools and resources. Check out the timeline below to learn more!

WG Infographic Updated


Working Groups connect community health experts and professionals around the world, breaking down organizational barriers to avoid duplication of effort and encourage collaborative response.

Hear more from a couple Working Group co-chairs:

Our Working Groups are highly engaged and provide many opportunities for participants to grow their professional connections, from frequent listserv communications to Working Group calls, webinars, and in-person meetings at CORE Group Conferences. CORE Group Members also have the opportunity to lead Working Groups as co-chairs.

It’s a really fun opportunity to get together a group of dynamic individuals coming from a wide range of organizations that are working to address malnutrition in all its forms. It’s just a really fun opportunity to shepherd this group of individuals toward achieving something together

Jennifer Burns, CRS, Nutrition Working Group Co-Chair 

Want to get involved in one of our Working Groups? Join Working Group listservs here, and register for our Spring 2017 Global Health Practitioner Conference on April 20 – 21, 2017 where you can meet in person with Working Groups to learn more about them and contribute to current projects.

March Milestone: Membership

CORE Group launched in 1997 as a membership organization, and while our membership has evolved over the years, it has remained central to our mission.


Originally, all NGOs receiving Child Survival and Health Grants Program (CSHGP) grants automatically became members.

Then in 2003, CORE Group established annual membership fees and a membership process. A CSHGP grant was no longer an automatic assurance of membership, and membership opened up to any international NGO with a US office and a commitment to community-based maternal and child health, among other criteria. All membership applicants started going through an approval process by the Board and Membership.

In 2011, the Associate and Individual Associate Membership levels were introduced, opening CORE Group’s membership even further to for-profit organizations, universities, foundations, and consultants or other individuals.

Learn more about the history of CORE Group Membership and why so many organizations renew their membership year after year:


Over the years we have prioritized quality over quantity to preserve the social capital necessary for cross-organizational sharing and collaboration, adding just a few members per year on average.

We have now grown to 100+ Members, Associates, and Individual Associates, and our diverse membership includes small, medium and large organizations; secular and faith-based organizations; organizations funded by government and organizations funded through private sources; relief-oriented health organizations seeking more involvement in development and transitional settings; university health departments; foundations; and so much more. 

We are so proud of our members’ many accomplishments that we highlight them in a quarterly Member Highlights eNewsletter. Take a look!

Learn more about CORE Group membership here.

We conducted a detailed Membership Survey at the end of 2016, and we will be sharing the results with the community soon. Here is a sneak peak of some of the responses about membership benefits:

“CORE Group is an essential platform to share and disseminate learning as well as convene like-minded organizations and stakeholders to advance dialogue and best practices. There is a sense of responsibility to share program evidence and contribute to this community of practice and to learn from other practitioners.”

“I feel that the openness of CORE is a huge asset. There has never been a time when I felt that I could not ask for support from CORE’s membership, and it was always provided!”

February Milestone: Dory Storms Child Survival Recognition Award

Since 2001, CORE Group has presented the annual Dory Storms Child Survival Recognition Award to a person or persons who demonstrate courage, leadership, and commitment to helping non-governmental organizations have an impact on and effectively implement programs that end child deaths.

The award is named after Dr. Storms, whose leadership of the USAID-funded Child Survival Support Program led to the creation of CORE Group. (Find out more about the beginning of CORE Group in last month’s milestone post.)

Learn more about the award from Dr. Storms herself in this video:

See all the award winners below, and read more about each one and their remarkable accomplishments here.

January Milestone: The Beginning

NOTE: This post highlights an important CORE Group milestone as we celebrate 20 years. Learn more about monthly milestones here.  

CORE Group’s story actually began years before 1997, with the 1985 launch of the USAID Child Survival and Health Grants Program (CSHGP), which provided grants to PVOs (private voluntary organizations) to operate child survival projects.

In the early years of the CSHGP, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health organized annual workshops for CSHGP grantees to exchange technical information in program strengthening and management. These workshops were led by Dr. Dory Storms (more about her coming up in next month’s milestone!).

Competition for funding had traditionally kept the staff from different PVOs from collaborating in a structured and meaningful way; however, through these annual meetings they realized how much they could learn from each other, develop resources together and reduce duplication of efforts.

Soon the grantees identified a need to form their own association to continue sharing their findings and building the PVO community’s technical capacity in child survival.

A group of PVOs formed a PVO Child Survival Steering Committee and approached USAID with the idea of submitting an unsolicited proposal to support a PVO network organization.


USAID was supportive of the concept, and in 1997, the Steering Committee submitted a formal proposal to USAID to support the formation of a new PVO membership organization entitled “CORE: Collaborations and Resources for Child Survival.”

CORE Group received an initial grant for $150,000 from USAID in June 1997. World Vision agreed to host the CORE secretariat until it incorporated.

In April 1998, at the annual child survival workshop, CORE members elected the first CORE Group Board of Directors composed of 10 representatives from member organizations:

  • Joe Valadez (PLAN International)
  • Olga Wollinka (World Relief)
  • David Shanklin (Curamericas)
  • David Prettyman (Project Concern International)
  • David Oot (Save the Children)
  • Laura Hoemeke (Africare)
  • Bettina Schwethelm (Project Hope)
  • Larry Cassaza (World Vision)
  • Vijay Rao (Medical Care Development Inc.)
  • June Pierre-Louis (Helen Keller International)

CORE’s incorporation process was completed in December 2000, and the organization’s bylaws were finalized in April 2001. CORE Group became an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in December 2001.

The signers of the Articles of Incorporation are listed below:

  • Jay Edison (Adventist Development and Relief Agency)
  • David Newberry (CARE International)
  • Alfonso Rosales (Catholic Relief Services)
  • Reese Welsh (Esperanca)
  • Ellen Vor der Bruegge (Freedom from Hunger)
  • Joe Valadez (Plan International)
  • Bettina Schwethelm (Project Hope)
  • Stacey Lissit (Salvation Army World Service Organization)
  • David Oot (Save the Children USA)
  • Mary Beth Powers (Save the Children USA)
  • Eric Starbuck (Save the Children USA)
  • Victoria Graham (World Vision)

See the actual Articles of Incorporation below:

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In 2002, the Board of Directors hired CORE Group’s first Executive Director, Karen LeBan, and established a vision statement, a mission statement, values and organizational goals.

…And the rest is history!

Watch CORE Group veteran David Shanklin tell the story of how he got involved in CORE Group below:

Still curious? You can find a more detailed CORE Group history here.

Stay tuned for an update on where CORE Group is headed next later this month, and check back throughout 2017 for many more milestones!