Improving Business Practices

Business Acumen for Community-based Organizations

Why business acumen?

The expansion of delivery system reform has presented new challenges to local organizations such as Area Agencies on Aging, Centers for Independent Living, and other providers that deliver home and community-based services to older adults and people with disabilities. The move toward integrated systems has major implications for aging and disability networks, which are formal and informal networks of organizations at the local, state and national levels. It offers both opportunities and challenges in terms of advocating with and for individuals receiving services regarding the design and implementation of systems, and it changes or expands business lines for community-based organizations (CBOs) that wish to sell their services to health plans and other integrated care entities (e.g., health plans, accountable care organizations, and health systems). Responding to delivery system reform requires organizational changes at many levels. In particular, partnership and network-building among CBOs that provide long-term care supports and services will be critical.

Since 2012, ACL has provided national leadership to help CBOs build networks and respond to delivery systems reform. This work includes technical assistance to deploy evidence-based programs and to build business capacity that, in turn, promotes successful contracting with integrated care entities and pathways to sustainability for CBOs developing private-public partnerships.

2016 ACL Grants to Advance Business Acumen of State and Community-Based Organizations

Grants totaling $3.75 million over three years have been awarded to the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) to build business capacity in the aging and disability services networks. Both projects are working together to build on the previous accomplishments of ACL's business acumen work and to complement other publicly and privately funded technical assistance resource centers addressing this critical issue.

Business Acumen for Disability Organizations Grant

Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD)
Projects of National Significance

Business Acumen for Disability Organizations

Award Date:
September 30, 2016

The project will build the capacity of community-based disability organizations (CBOs) to contract with integrated care and other health sector entities. Improving the ability of disability networks to act as active stakeholders in the development and implementation of integrated systems within their state, the grantee will build knowledge; provide training and technical assistance, through a learning collaborative model. The project will have four primary objectives:

  1. Develop baseline knowledge of current community-based organizations (CBOs)
  2. Provide broad-based training and technical assistance for disability networks to build their capacity
  3. Convene and provide targeted technical assistance utilizing a learning collaborative model
  4. Engage integrated care organizations, managed care plans, and other health care entities regarding the needs of consumers and the roles of CBOs

With its partners NASUAD anticipates the following project outcomes:

  1. Increased knowledge of current CBO successes, challenges, needs, and promising practices
  2. Increased technical assistance and business acumen resources to support CBOs
  3. Increase in learning collaborative participants’ business capacity to engage with integrated care networks
  4. The improvement of health care entities’ awareness about the role CBOs can play in the health care system

Partners include: American Association on Health and Disabilities (AAHD), the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services (NASDDDS), the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), the National Council on Aging (NCOA),the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the Community Living Policy Center at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), the Research and Training Center at University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration, and Mercer Human Services Government Consulting.

National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities
1201 15th St. NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 898-2578
Fax: (202) 898-2583

Grant Number
90DNBA 0001

Project Period

Project Amount
$750,000 per year

Martha A. Roherty, Executive Director
1201 15th Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, D.C. 20005

AIDD Project Officer
Katherine Cargill-Willis
Phone: 202-795-7322

In addition, the new Learning Collaboratives for Advanced Business Acumen Skills (PDF, 313KB) grant awarded to n4a ($500,000 per year for three years) will provide more in-depth learning opportunities for CBOs.

2015 ACL Business Acumen Learning Collaborative

ACL selected 11 networks of community-based aging and disability organizations to participate in a learning collaborative and receive targeted technical assistance related to business acumen. Read the press release. A welcome webinar (slides: PDF, 1.02MB | audio: WAV, 33.1MB | transcript: PDF, 116KB) was held on February 10, 2015. Learn more about each of the selected networks from the following list of network profiles.

Site Profiles (2015–16)

From May 2013 to December 2014, ACL provided technical assistance to a pilot learning collaborative with nine networks of community-based organizations to assist them in marketing, contracting, and pricing services they provide to older adults and individuals with disabilities. Following are profiles of the selected networks, resources, and webinars that have resulted from the pilot collaborative.

Site Profiles (2013–14)


Webinar Series: The Affordable Care Act, Older Adults and People with Disabilities

This series of webinars focuses on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (also known as the Affordable Care Act, or ACA) and its impact on older adults, people with disabilities, and the aging and disability networks.

The slides, a transcript and an audio recording of each webinar are available below. All webinars in the series are listed in reverse chronological order.

  • Making Managed Long-Term Services and Supports More Consumer-Focused (March 4, 2014)

  • Managed Long Term Services and Supports: Measuring Outcomes (February 26, 2013)

  • Promising Practices in Medicaid Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (January 29, 2013)

  • Building Integrated Care Coalitions: The California Community of Constituents Initiative (December 11, 2012)

  • Integrating Care: Partnerships between Community-Based Organizations and Accountable Care Organizations (September 28, 2012)

  • Managed Long-Term Services and Supports: Engaging in the Stakeholder Process (Part2) (July 24, 2012)

  • Managed Long-Term Services and Supports: Engaging in the Stakeholder Process (June 27, 2012)

  • Managed Long-Term Services and Supports 101 (May 29, 2012)

  • Plan-Do-Study-Act Cycles and How They Can Accelerate Quality Improvement in Your Organization (April 24, 2012)

  • Transitions and Long-Term Care: Reducing Preventable Hospital Readmissions among Nursing Facility Residents (March 27, 2012)

  • Million Hearts (February 28, 2012)

  • Transitions and Long-Term Care: A Look at MDS 3.0 Section Q and Money Follows the Person (January 30, 2012)

  • The Health Care Innovation Challenge (December 8, 2011)

  • Medication Management Tools and Resources (October 25, 2011)

  • Defining Communities: Partnerships between QIOs and the Aging Network (September 27, 2011)

  • Aligning Systems for Medicare-Medicaid-Enrollees (July 5, 2011)

  • Utilizing Patient-Centered Technologies to Support Care Transitions (June 21, 2011)

  • Building Community Technology Systems to Support Care Coordination (May 31, 2011)

  • Partnership for Patients: The Community-based Care Transition Program (April 20, 2011)

  • Care Transitions in Action: From Hospital to Home in Two Communities (March 30, 2011)

  • Care Transitions 3: Making the Business Case (February 23, 2011)

  • Care Transitions 2: Making the Programmatic Case (February 9, 2011)

  • Care Transitions 1: What Do These Programs Look Like? And How Can the Aging Network Play a Role? (January 24, 2011)

Last modified on 05/17/2017