Building and Bridging: Collaborating to Improve Health

From the article by Karen Minyard and Chris Parker on the Build Healthy Places Network Blog:

…Recognizing that health cannot be achieved or maintained in isolation, Bridging for Health: Improving Community Health Through Innovations in Financing takes a systemic approach to improving population health, much in the same way that the Build Healthy Places Network tackles community development through cross-sector collaboration.

Bridging for Health, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is aiding communities in the pursuit of financing mechanisms that rebalance and align investments in health. The Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) at Georgia State University in Atlanta is the national coordinating center. The center works with selected collaboratives across the country to improve population health and achieve equity. We believe that the key to this lies in the linkages among health care, public health, and other sectors like community development to support a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now, and for generations to come.

Bridging for Health initially selected four geographically diverse sites. The sites differ in the leadership of the collaborative and potential financing mechanism being explored, but share a commitment to upstream investment in interventions to improve population health outcomes in their community.

…GHPC’s 20-plus years of experience in health care financing, public health, technical assistance, and sustainability planning made us realize that it is shortsighted to focus financing innovations in isolation.  While communities may be energized by the idea of pay for success or a wellness trust and are anxious to jump in, they must also address the areas that complement and support innovations in financing.  Collaboratives cannot successfully implement a financing mechanism without the right partners, the right strategy, or without considering sustainability. Population health will never truly improve without an eye toward equity. Our team did a great amount of thinking about the need for a mindset change.  How could we help our communities realize the importance of getting the pieces in place to nurture the innovation?

We have developed a framework, called the “Blueprint for Action.” This guides our focus on the core areas to address with our sites:  collaboration and collective impact, innovations in financing, and health and health equity.  Through tailored technical assistance, evaluation support, resources, subject matter experts, and opportunities for peer learning and exchange, Bridging for Health works with communities for two years to catalyze progress and share the learnings to spark further innovations across the country.

Read the full article.

Innovations in Health Equity

The Spring 2016 supplement of the Stanford Social Innovation Review explores the work of different funders and organizations that are addressing areas of inequity  in various aspects of life that affect health. Published for Grantmakers in Health with support from the Aetna Foundation, the supplement explores philanthropy in addressing health disparities, the challenges to health equity, and diverse projects addressing these issues. The articles include (descriptions come from the supplement):

See the full supplement Innovations in Health Equity.

Policy Research to Improve Health

In 2015, the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation founded the Policies for Action program to encourage broad-based research to identify policies, laws, and other regulatory tools in the public and private sectors that can contribute to the building of a Culture of Health. Administered through the National Coordinating Center at Temple University’s Center for Health Law, Policy and Practice, the program seeks to work with experts from diverse fields such as healthcare, public health, early childhood development, education, transportation, housing, architectural design, built environments, and economics to understand how policies that affect these areas also impact health.

In January 2015, the Policies for Action program released a call for proposals for research that, “… generates actionable evidence—the data and information that can guide legislators and other policymakers, public agencies, educators, advocates, community groups, and individuals. The research may examine established laws, regulations, and policies as well as potential new policies and approaches. The research funded under this call for proposals (CFP) should inform the significant gaps in our knowledge regarding what policies can serve as levers to improve population health and well-being, and achieve greater levels of health equity.”

Particular consideration will be given to projects that:

Focus on early childhood, or have lifelong, even multi-generational, benefits.

  • Are preventive rather than remedial.
  • Advance a community’s own priorities.
  • Highlight collaboration between the public and private sectors, or innovations within the private sector.
  • Address people or places or systems that have been traditionally underserved or unattended.
  • Transform or bridge major service systems, such as between health care and public health systems, or other systems that influence health in communities, such as social services or education.
  • Influence values and beliefs integral to a Culture of Health. Public policies often reflect the priorities and beliefs of the voting public—but may also in turn influence social norms, beliefs and behaviors (e.g. change in attitudes about secondhand smoke due to smoke free air laws).

 

Read the call for proposals for more information. Also see the Policies for Action website.

 

Invest Health: Strategies for Healthier Cities

In early November, The Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation announced Invest Health as an initiative to help align people, strategies, and capital to improve health in cities across the country. According to the press release, “The initiative aims to transform the way city leaders work together to help all communities thrive with specific attention to factors that drive health in low-income neighborhoods, including a scarcity of quality jobs, affordable housing, and nutritious food, high crime rates and, unhealthy environmental conditions.”

The initiative will invest in 50 mid sized cities around the nation– cities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000. Participating cities will be selected through a competitive process that opened December 16. To apply, teams from each participant city must include five cross-sector leaders representing, at a minimum, the public sector, community development/finance, and an academic or health-related anchor institution. The remaining team members should be drawn from sectors appropriate to the challenge the team seeks to address.

Visit the Invest Health website for more information and learn how to apply.

Systems for Building a Culture of Health

In early December, the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation released a call for proposals in the program Systems for Action: Systems and Services Research to Build a Culture of Health. The Systems for Action program explores novel ways of “aligning the delivery and financing systems that could support a Culture Of Health.” The program uses a broad research framework that includes sectors such as housing, transportation, social services, community services and supports, education, criminal and juvenile justice, and economic and community development.

Through the solicitation, the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation will give two types of awards:

  1. Type One: studies to be completed within a 12-month period with up to $100,000 in total funding.
  2. Type Two: studies to be completed over a 24-month period with up to $250,000 in total funding.

Up to six studies will be chosen.

For more information on the solicitation and next steps see the web announcement.

For more information on the framework, see the Funding Opportunity Brochure.

Fund commits $100 Million to New Funding for Affordable Housing, Health Care

In early November, the Healthy Futures fund — a collaboration of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Morgan Stanley and The Kresge Foundation — announced that after fully funding the pilot initiative started in 2013, it would provide another $100 million to finance affordable housing development, community health centers, and local services that address the social determinants of health in high-poverty areas. The fund takes a community development approach to health. It’s key goals include:

  • expanding access to primary care and other health programs
  • revitalizing commercial corridors and creating jobs in blighted areas
  • developing efficient ways to finance neighborhood revitalization plans.

Read more about the announcement from Business Wire.

Visit the Healthy Futures Fund website to learn more about the funding opportunities.