Feb 23, 2017, 12:00 PM, Posted by
For the first time ever, the CDC and CDC Foundation are providing city and neighborhood level data for 500 of the largest U.S. cities, making it possible to identify emerging health problems and effective interventions.
Old Colony YMCA in Brockton, Massachusetts recently discovered something startling: a single neighborhood more burdened by poor health such as asthma, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol than surrounding areas. Most surprising, however, was that this particular area had a lower prevalence of unhealthy behaviors like binge drinking than other locations within Brockton.
In the past, public health officials may have expended limited resources on the entire Brockton metropolitan area because they wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint the specific neighborhood facing the spike and determine why it was happening.
But since new data revealed that health behaviors were not the culprit, officials focused on partnering with regional organizations to address the social determinants of health. These include social and economic factors like unsafe streets, a lack of jobs, and limited availability of fresh, nutritious food.
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Oct 26, 2016, 4:00 PM, Posted by
Past prize-winners recently convened to discuss their experiences. They share powerful lessons on how they are improving health and health equity within their communities.
We started the day with an icebreaker.
“I harness the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members,” read the moderator.
“That’s me!” shouted the group of several dozen people gathered on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., for a reunion of sorts. They came from diverse sectors and systems—from health care, education, nonprofits and government agencies—and their communities all had this in common: They are past winners of the RWJF Culture of Health Prize.
Each year, RWJF honors and elevates U.S. communities that are making great strides in their journey to better health and well-being. So far, 27 places—cities, counties, tribes, and more—across the country have claimed the distinction of receiving the Prize.
This year, communities across the United States have until November 3rd to apply for the Prize. Winners will receive up to $25,000 and have their stories spread broadly to inspire others toward locally-driven change.
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Aug 30, 2016, 9:28 AM, Posted by
Jill Vialet’s idea to transform the school day through the power of play started with just two schools and now serves more than 1,300 nationwide. The CEO and founder of Playworks shares the tough lessons she learned about scale during her journey.
I was visiting an elementary school back in 1996 when the frazzled principal desperately turned to me and asked if I could “do something” about what was happening at recess. Just moments before I arrived she had reprimanded three fifth grade boys in her office for fighting on the playground. It clearly wasn’t the first time they had been there for the same offense.
I was originally there to discuss an artist residency program for a children’s art museum I was running in Oakland, California. Instead, I listened to the principal lament how recess had become the most dreaded part of the school day. Kids were getting into trouble, getting hurt, and feeling left out. As far as this principal was concerned, the real tragedy was the distraction from teaching and learning, something she just couldn’t accept.
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Aug 1, 2016, 9:22 AM, Posted by
A new $10 million grant opportunity, designed to benefit the Gulf of Mexico region, will advance the science and practice of fostering healthy communities that can prepare for, withstand and recover from adverse events—and even thrive afterwards.
Few of us have forgotten the searing images of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, especially how the great American City of New Orleans was left in shambles—a testament to longstanding social and economic problems that preceded the storm and a nation that was unprepared after it occurred.
In the decade that followed Katrina—one that included the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history—recovery across the region has varied, but there have been several success stories. For example, New Orleans, that soulful town, overhauled its health and public health systems, improved access to nutritious food and fitness activities, and put new emphasis on issues of equity and poverty. The work is far from done, but the transformation was sufficient to earn a Culture of Health Prize from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in 2013.
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Jul 27, 2016, 12:00 PM, Posted by
Abbey Cofsky, Kristin Schubert
Communities share the specific steps they took to maximize academic success by supporting parents and families.
We’re all well aware that education leads to better jobs and higher income. Just as important, research also links education to reduced risk of illness, increased vitality, longevity and academic success that extends to future generations.
That’s why the situation for schools in Lawrence, Mass., was particularly concerning back in 2010. At the time, more than one out of every four Lawrence kids dropped out of high school. This led the Massachusetts Department of Education to put Lawrence’s schools into receivership by 2012, placing them under new management to safeguard state assets. The state-appointed “receiver,” was granted authority to develop an intervention plan to overhaul the schools through steps you might expect such as expanding the school day and replacing half the districts’ principals.
But the district also took one critical step by acknowledging that a family’s financial stability strongly influences how well children do in school—and whether they drop out.
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Jul 6, 2016, 11:00 AM, Posted by
Researchers: RWJF wants to fund your best ideas, and most rigorous study designs, to help us learn what works to promote the health of everyone in America.
What does it take for Americans to lead healthier lives? Seems like a simple question, but it takes research to get answers we can act on.
Research is how we will discover what happens to resident and community health when a low-income community in Seattle—pocked with aging infrastructure and troubled, publicly subsidized housing—is transformed into one that sports mixed-income housing, new parks and services that support well-being. It’s a way we can measure the value of litigation aimed at forcing school districts in California to comply with state requirements for physical education in schools. Through research, we can pinpoint whether the presence of children in a defendant’s life influences sentencing decisions. And only through research can we further understand how criminal sentences impact the overall health and living arrangements of these children.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is funding these and other studies through its Evidence for Action (E4A) National Program, now in its second year. We want to continue making grants through E4A, which is why we invite you to explore our Call for Proposals (CFP).
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Jun 29, 2016, 2:00 PM, Posted by
Virtual reality is proving to be a tool to help build the human capacity to care about the realities of others—something that’s needed to tackle social issues like homelessness.
Today, San Francisco media took the unprecedented step of putting aside competitive interests and devoted an entire day of coverage to the issue of homelessness in the Bay Area. Frustrated at inaction over the city's homeless crisis, local newsmakers have flooded the airwaves and filled pages of newsprint to focus attention on the problem and potential solutions.
Homelessness is not just something San Franciscans are struggling with. On any given night, over 1/2 million people in the U.S.—including children and families—are homeless, according to the National Alliance to End Homeless.
Tackling tough issues like homelessness requires empathy. Having empathy for those in need is a vital first step toward action. We’ve seen events that enable people to “walk a mile” in the shoes of a homeless person be effective at helping build understanding and compassion for the homeless. But what would it mean if people could walk a virtual mile in another’s shoes? Could the immersive nature of virtual reality help us reach more people and build lasting empathy?
Working with researchers at Stanford University, that’s exactly what we hope to find out.
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Jun 27, 2016, 2:00 PM, Posted by
Communities across the United States are using data to help set goals, measure progress and provide better services that will ultimately improve residents' health.
“Where have we been? Where are we going? How can we get there?” These are the questions facing communities who want to make health a right, not a privilege, for all of their residents. And they can’t answer these questions without one critical tool: data.
As a former community coach with the Roadmaps to Health Action Center, I was a sounding board, devil’s advocate and cheerleader all in one. I was also a data guru, helping communities use numbers to guide decisions and come together around priorities.
Data is a powerful tool in any community’s work to build a Culture of Health. A good place to start looking for data is the County Health Rankings, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin, because it compiles health stats on nearly every county in the nation. Other sources, such as federal, state and local departments of health, education, labor, and parks and recreation also provide useful statistics. In some cases, I advise communities to consider collecting their own data, either because the information they want isn’t already collected, or because existing sources don’t provide the rich level of detail they need about particular populations or issues.
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