New recommendations from the RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America explore how we can improve health for all Americans by investing in early childhood, integrating community development and health, and linking health and health care. There are promising programs and efforts across the nation in all of these areas. Explore the videos and stories below to learn how communities are taking action to improve health.

Early childhood

Healthy communities

Bridging health and health care

Early Childhood

Early Steps to School Success

In 2006, Save the Children introduced its Early Steps to School Success program. Early Steps is built on public-private partnerships with local schools and states, and delivers high-quality early childhood development services to children ages 0 to 5, and their families in 14 states. Key components of the program include:

Home visits conducted by early childhood coordinators. For ages 0 to 3, coordinators provide parents with age-appropriate activities for their children, help monitor their children’s developmental progress, and offer suggestions on how to interact with young children to promote early literacy and language learning.

Book exchange program. Coordinators foster a love of reading in children age 0 to 5 with a book exchange program, supplying families with a rotation of children’s books.

Fostering a positive connection between families and schools. To support a positive parent-school relationship for children prior to entering school, parent education groups meet at local schools to discuss early development topics.

Enhancing the community of practice. To support a sustainable education model, the program emphasizes increasing early childhood education knowledge and skills among paraprofessionals and practitioners in the community.

Learn more about Early Steps to School Success

Child First

An innovative approach to preventing mental health problems in children.

Educare DC

Bringing quality child care to kids in need in Washington, DC.

Expert: Jack Shonkoff, MD

The lifelong outcomes of early learning and brain development.

Pre-K 4 SA

Building support for the future of San Antonio.

Keeping Families Together

Keeping children with their families, and out of foster care.

Booth Memorial Child Development Center

Strategic investments in an early childood center mean big improvements in health for both students and teachers.

Healthy Communities

Neighborhood Centers: The Gulfton / Sharpstown, TX Story

The Gulfton/Sharpstown neighborhoods comprise an 8.4-square-mile section of Southwest Houston with a population density three times greater than that of the city’s inner loop. While 70 percent of males and 55 percent of females are employed, many are underemployed, with nearly half earning incomes below $25,000. Approximately 40 percent of the families with young children in the community live below the poverty level. Sixty-two percent of households have school-age or preschool children; less than half of the adults in the area graduated from high school. And 53 percent do not speak English well.

Neighborhood Centers Inc. has been present in the Gulfton/Sharpstown area since 1980, providing early care and education to children while serving as a resource for family literacy, parenting and adult education. In 2005, Neighborhood Centers created a partnership with the City of Houston and JPMorgan Chase to build a new community center and marketplace that now house an immigration center, a comprehensive family education center that includes classroom space and a resource library, meeting space, and a center for economic development that opened in 2010.

Learn more about the Baker Ripley Neighborhood Center

Buckingham Schools Renovation Project

Designing a school that builds a culture of health.

Creating a Healthy Place for Kids

Renovating Monument Elementary School's playground in Trenton, NJ.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Lightrail Project

How smart planning can create a transit system that improves opportunities for healthier lives.

Renovating Northgate Park in Camden, NJ

Stregthening a community by rebuilding its anchor: the neighborhood park.

Expert: Nancy Andrews

Including a focus on healthy communities at the Low Income Investment Fund.

Bridging Health and Health Care

Experts: Raymond Baxter

Raymond Baxter, Senior Vice President for Community Benefit at Kaiser Permanente, explains the Total Health approach.

Medical-Legal Partnership

The Medical-Legal Partership brings lawyers into the clinic to help solve non-medical problems that can worsen health or make treatment more difficult.