Cincinnati, Ohio. Flint, Michigan. New Orleans, Louisiana. Springfield, Massachusetts. The names of many of America’s mid-sized cities are woven into the fabric of our national consciousness.
Others are less well known: Broken Arrow, Arizona. Pasco, Washington. Taylorsville, Utah.
Famed or not, cities boasting populations of 50,000 to 400,000 are where most Americans live. Mid-sized cities can be great places for a healthy, rewarding life. Many have a strong sense of community and history, with less hustle and bustle and traffic and lower cost of living than big cities.
But even in places where quality of life is generally good, not everyone benefits equally. All together, more people live in poverty in America’s mid-sized cities than in large metro areas. Even the most storied of these cities have neighborhoods facing some of the nation’s deepest challenges. And many such cities have suffered economic depression for decades.
My organization, Reinvestment Fund, works closely with cities to use data to better understand the needs of their most at-risk neighborhoods — and then invest in new initiatives that can revitalize housing, health, transportation, education, and other assets that help communities become stronger and healthier. Now, with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we want to help dozens of mid-sized cities think big about ways they can improve health in their most underserved neighborhoods.
To do that, we’ve launched Invest Health, which is giving 50 mid-sized cities $60,000 each to start to map out the kinds of changes they want to make.