Bold initiative to build health begins

Mandate to grant recipients is to be bold, collaborative and data-driven
By Bernie Monegain
10:34 AM
Woman with arms raised

BUILD Health Challenge, an ambitious countrywide healthcare initiative aimed at boosting health across communities, today awarded grants to 18 groundbreaking projects to improve health in low-income areas.

The projects were selected on the strengths of their "bold, upstream, integrated, local and data-driven approaches" to address the social and environmental factors that have the greatest impact on health.

The efforts in each community are underpinned by health information technology and data analytics. The community work is being led by local nonprofit organizations, hospitals and local health departments.

The BUILD Health Challenge was founded by a few heavy hitters in the healthcare realm: The Advisory Board Company, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The funding collaborative awarded both implementation and planning grants to support community-driven initiatives. Seven implementation awardees received $250,000 over two years to strengthen existing partnerships, jump-start more advanced health data and analytics initiatives, and expand their impact.

Eleven planning awardees received $75,000 to kick-start still-nascent projects addressing specific health challenges with a committed group of community partners. The partnering health system or systems on each implementation award have also committed a 1:1 match with financial and in-kind support to advance the partnership's goals.

Karen DeSalvo, MD, national coordinator for health IT and acting assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, keynoted the event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, this morning where the award winners were announced.

She pointed out that she had observed first-hand "the most resource-challenged people in the country," when she worked in public health in New Orleans.

She witnessed people without money to buy medication. "They didn't have safe neighborhoods," she said. "And they missed appointments because the bus was late." The city was "ripe with violence ad trauma," she added. 

"It marked me forever – in a good way," she said. "It's one of the reasons I came here," she said, "to leverage some of the lessons learned."

The BUILD Health Challenge is designed to accelerate collaborative approaches to addressing the social and environmental determinants of health across the nation. Working in close partnership with the awardees, the BUILD Health Challenge will also identify and disseminate the most promising models of population health improvement to stimulate these kinds of initiatives in other communities.

The BUILD Health Challenge will provide technical assistance for awardees in policy development, monitoring and evaluation, and more from the Practical Playbook, a Web-based tool to facilitate and promote collaboration between primary care and public health professionals to improve population health; County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, which provide guidance and tools to understand how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play; and the Prevention Institute, a national non-profit organization that promotes policies, organizational practices, and collaborative efforts to prevent illness and injury and promote equity in the first place.

The BUILD Health Challenge Implementation Grant Awardees:

Healthy Ontario Initiative of Ontario, California

The project will improve access to healthy, affordable food and safe places to be active in order to reduce high rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases. Led by Partners for Better Health, County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health and San Antonio Regional Hospital.

Engaging the Community in New Approaches to Healthy Housing of Cleveland, Ohio

Led by Environmental Health Watch, Cleveland Department of Public Health and The MetroHealth System.

Healthy Homes East Bank of Des Moines, Iowa 

Will collaborate to reduce asthma-related hospital visits by improving social and environmental factors in East Bank neighborhoods. Led by Polk County Housing Trust Fund, Polk County Health Department, Broadlawns Medical Center, Mercy Medical Center and UnityPoint Health.

Addressing Healthcare's Blindside in Albuquerque's South Side 

Will expand access to healthy food and equip healthcare providers to refer patients to a service hub to address social and economic needs of community members in Albuquerque’s Southeast Heights and South Valley neighborhoods. Led by Adelante Development Center, Bernalillo County Office of Health and Social Services, and Presbyterian Healthcare Services.

Bronx Healthy Buildings Program of Bronx, New York 

Will improve housing conditions and energy efficiency for low-income residents in five Bronx neighborhoods to address high rates of asthma and preventable hospitalizations. Led by Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Montefiore Medical Center.

Improving Health through a Sustainable Food System of Pasadena, Texas 

Will develop a community-supported food system to reduce obesity and improve obesity-related health outcomes. Led by Houston Food Bank, Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, CHI St. Luke’s Health and Memorial Hermann Health System.

San Pablo Area Revitalization Collaborative of San Pablo, California 

Will promote economic development and reduce health disparities in West Oakland. Led by East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, Alameda County Public Health Department and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.

The BUILD Health Challenge Planning Grant Awardees:

Youth Driven Healthy South Los Angeles, California

Will develop a plan to engage youth leaders to create a community with healthy food and inviting urban spaces while engaging promising area youth in leadership development to foster a sustained movement towards health, safety and wellness. Led by National Health Foundation, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and California Medical Center.

Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Screening and Support in Aurora of Aurora, Colorado 

Will help connect families to a network of both clinical and community-based resources to address needs. Led by Together Colorado, Tri-County Health Department and Children's Hospital Colorado.

Project ACCESS (Assessment and Community Collaboration to Engage and Strengthen Southeast Colorado Springs) of Colorado Springs, Colorado

Will assess health data and research, engage community members, and mobilize the community to improve neighborhood safety and reduce violence. Led by YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, El Paso County Public Health and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services.

Health Forward/Salud Adelante of Chicago, Illinois 

Will integrate legal, medical and public health services to improve the health of the immigrant population in the New City and East Garfield Park neighborhoods. Led by Legal Assistance Foundation, Chicago Department of Public Health and Cook County Health and Hospital System.

Northeast Denver Unified of Denver, Colorado 

Will develop solutions to the social, environmental and economic factors that have the greatest impact on child health and wellness. Led by The Civic Canopy, Denver Public Health and Denver Health's Community Health Services.

Healing Together: Preventing Youth Violence in Upton/Druid Heights of Baltimore, Maryland 

Will develop a comprehensive youth violence prevention plan for the Druid Hill and Upton Heights neighborhoods. Led by Druid Heights Community Development Center, Baltimore City Health Department and R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Healthy Hill Initiative of Springfield, Massachusetts 

Led by HAPHousing, Springfield Department of Health and Human Services, Baystate Health System and Sisters of Providence Health System.

Chandler Park Healthy Neighborhood Strategy of Detroit, Michigan, 

Will revitalize the blighted neighborhoods surrounding Chandler Park to create job opportunities, improve access to healthy food, strengthen transit infrastructure and reduce crime. Led by Eastside Community Network, Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion and St. John Providence Health System – Community Health Investment Corporation.

Seattle Chinatown-International District Healthy of Seattle, Washington 

Will develop a plan to improve economic development and housing in the city's International District. Led by InterIm Community Development Association, Public Health Seattle and King County and Swedish Medical Center.

BUILDing Health and Equity in East Portland, Oregon 

Will work to reduce health disparities in East Portland by expanding access to affordable housing, green spaces and healthy food. Led by Oregon Public Health Institute, Multnomah County Health Department, Providence Health and Services, Kaiser Permanente NW, Legacy Health and Adventist Health.

Building a Healthy and Resilient Liberty City of Liberty City, Florida 

Will collaborate to reduce violence and more effectively assist trauma victims in their recovery in the Liberty City neighborhood. Led by Florida Institute for Health Innovation, Florida Department of Health – Miami-Dade County and Jackson Health System.

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