WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Despite spending more on health care than any other country in the world, Americans live shorter, less healthy lives than our counterparts in other high-income nations. While this is a national problem, our local communities are where we have the power to influence our health more than ever before.
To help improve our health through our communities, the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) today recognized the HealthyCommunity50 that will move on to compete for the grand prize in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge. These select cities and counties will receive a $10,000 community seed award to implement a program able to show measurable improvements around key social determinants of health.
“Approximately 90 percent of the factors affecting risk of premature death exist outside of a doctor’s office or hospital,” said Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna chairman and CEO. “The Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge supports communities that are working to address and improve these factors and build a healthier world, community by community.”
The Challenge, a partnership between The Aetna Foundation, APHA and NACo, in collaboration with CEOs for Cities, is designed to create economically competitive, inclusive and equitable communities. The Challenge will award $1.5 million in prizes to small and mid-sized cities and counties that are able to show measurable improvements in health outcomes over the course of several years through cross-sector partnerships.
The Challenge is designed so that participants share successful health improvement strategies that can be scaled and replicated by other communities. HealthyCommunity50 members will share experiences and best practices throughout the competition via a learning network.
The HealthyCommunity50 were chosen out of hundreds of city governments, local municipalities, health departments, educational institutions and other entities. An expert advisory board selected these groups to continue to the next phase of the Challenge based on plans to improve the health of their communities. Improvements will be measured around at least one of five domains: healthy behaviors, community safety, built environment, social/economic factors and environmental exposures.
“We know that efforts to address these social determinants of health are necessary to create health equity, and that’s why we’re so excited for our 50 cities, counties and tribes,” said APHA executive director Georges C. Benjamin, MD. “Their innovative work is leading to better health in their own world and beyond.”
An expert panel will conduct site visits to all HealthyCommunity50 members to understand the community’s approach to the project first-hand and speak with the members of the cross-sector team and key stakeholders. At the conclusion of the Challenge, the programs most able to show measurable change will be eligible for prize awards from $25,000 - $500,000. Participants will be judged on their own progress and will not be competing against each other.
“Local governments drive health improvements, and counties have developed innovative approaches to transform the health of communities across the nation,” said NACo President Bryan Desloge. “County leaders are learning by example and putting best practices into action. We're excited about participating in the HealthyCommunity50 and look forward to applying the lessons learned to promote healthy communities in counties across the nation."
The HealthyCommunity50 are:
|Name of Lead Organization||State Served||
|Anchorage Park Foundation||Alaska||Increase outdoor physical activity|
|City of Avondale||Arizona||Increase access to recreational programs|
|County of San Diego||California||Increase health equity|
|City of Perris||California||Increase access to healthy foods|
|Greater Bridgeport Opportunities Industrialization Center Inc.||Connecticut||Increase health equity|
|New Haven Health Department||Connecticut||Decrease childhood asthma|
|City of Miami||Florida||Increase health care access|
|Florida Department of Health||Florida||Decrease food inequality|
|City of St. Petersburg||Florida||Increase access, availability and procurement of healthy foods|
|Hillsborough County MPO||Florida||Increase access to healthy foods|
|Healthy Savannah||Georgia||Increase healthy eating and health equity|
|Polk County Housing Trust Fund||Iowa||Decrease childhood asthma|
|DeKalb County Community Gardens||Illinois||Increase access to healthy foods|
|Kane County Health Department||Illinois||Increase community engagement|
|Building a Thriving Compassionate Community (BTCC)||Indiana||Increase children’s health conditions|
|Jump IN for Healthy Kids||Indiana||Decrease childhood obesity|
|Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government||Kentucky||Increase mental wellness and healthy behaviors|
|Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City||Kansas||Increase walkability|
|Metropolitan Area Planning Council||Massachusetts||Increase walkability and bikeability|
|Baltimore City Health Department||Maryland||Increase physical activity|
|Ingham County Health Department||Michigan||Increase smoke-free living|
|Independence Health Department||Missouri||Decrease tobacco exposure in housing units|
|City of Kansas City Missouri Health Department||Missouri||Decrease youth and domestic violence rates|
|Mississippi State University: Gulfport||Mississippi||Increase healthy food choices in youth|
|Chatham County Public Health Department||North Carolina||Decrease obesity|
|Davidson County||North Carolina||Increase healthy eating and physical activity|
|Duke University: Durham and Cabarrus Counties||North Carolina||Increase health equity|
|Mecklenburg County Health Department||North Carolina||Decrease heart disease|
|University of Nebraska Board of Regents: Dodge, Saunders and Washington Counties||Nebraska||Increase healthy eating and health equity|
|City of Jersey City||New Jersey||Increase healthy behaviors to decrease violence|
|Coopers Ferry Partnership||New Jersey||Increase water quality|
|Sandoval Health Collaborative||New Mexico||Increase family nutrition and physical activity|
|Dutchess County Government||New York||Increase healthy living and employment opportunities|
|Union Community Health Center||New York||Decrease obesity|
|Cleveland Department of Public Health||Ohio||Decrease tobacco use in youth and adults|
|Franklin County Public Health||Ohio||Increase comprehensive healthy living|
|Tulsa City-County Health Department||Oklahoma||Increase access to healthy foods|
|Chester County||Pennsylvania||Increasing walking|
|Crispus Attucks Association, York County||Pennsylvania||Increase healthy housing|
|Allentown Health Bureau||Pennsylvania||Increase physical activity|
|Blair County Planning Commission||Pennsylvania||Increase community development|
|Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at the Miriam Hospital||Rhode Island||Decrease prison re-entry|
|Mary Black Foundation, Inc.||South Carolina||Decrease obesity in schools and the community|
|City of Brownsville||Texas||Increase access to community gardens|
|Waco-McLennan County Public Health District||Texas||Increase access to, and consumption of, fresh foods|
|Wichita County Public Health District||Texas||Decrease childhood obesity|
|Danville Pittsylvania County United Fund||Virginia||Increase healthy living|
|Lenowisco Health District||Virginia||Increase healthy living|
|Thurston County Public Health & Social Services||Washington||Increase walkability|
|West Virginia University, Morgantown||West Virginia||Increase mental wellness|
For more information, visit www.healthiestcities.org and join the conversation at #HealthiestCitiesChallenge.
The Aetna Foundation is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna (NYSE: AET). Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed more than $465 million in grants and sponsorships. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered 3.8 million hours since 2003. For more information, visit www.aetnafoundation.org.
The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the profession of public health, share the latest research and information, promote best practices and advocate for public health issues and policies grounded in research. We are the only organization that combines a 140-plus year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Visit us at www.apha.org.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) unites America’s 3,069 county governments. Founded in 1935, NACo brings county officials together to advocate with a collective voice on national policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership skills, pursue transformational county solutions, enrich the public’s understanding of county government and exercise exemplary leadership in public service. For more information, visit www.naco.org.