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Example #1: Reframing the substance use debate

Adolescent substance use is a nationwide problem. In particular, many national campaigns have sought to reduce the use of alcohol by minors. Framing and reframing the issue proved to be a significant key to gaining community support for an adolescent substance use coalition.

The coalition was experiencing difficulty in gaining support from many community members. The reason? The coalition operates in a college town, where adolescent alcohol consumption is thought of more as a rite of passage than a problem. That put the coalition in a vulnerable situation: Without support for their cause, how could they survive as an organization? Or, more importantly, how could they have an impact on substance use?

The coalition began brainstorming. Several new ideas began to emerge. Adolescent substance use is not just alcohol consumption, but also involves other substances that were public health concerns: marijuana, cocaine, tobacco, etc. The coalition began examining the risk and protective factors associated with substance use.  They soon realized that most (if not all) of the risk and protective factors for alcohol use were relevant to addressing all of the various substances.

With this in mind, they reframed the issue to gain maximum support from the community. They chose to emphasize tobacco use, which most agree is a public health problem affecting youth today. Although the coalition's mission has not changed, the framing has been transformed to fit the purpose of a wider audience. As a result, the coalition received greater support from the community.



This brief summary highlights the FrameWorks Institute’s research on public perceptions of food and fitness. It summarizes three cultural models associated with food and fitness and community health that dominate public thinking, and provides guidance for reframing the issues to elevate community support.


Example #3: Framing Community Safety: Guidance for Effective Communication

Cover image of the guide.

The FrameWorks Institute offers Framing Community Safety: Guidance for Effective Communication (pdf), which is a guide for nonprofits, community-based organizations, public agencies, and others who want to communicate more effectively with the public about community-led efforts to prevent violence and promote safety and healing. Read more.