Community Context and Challenges

  • Approximately 40% of children live in poverty, which is twice as high as the county (20%) and significantly higher than state (23%) and national levels (22%).

  • Racial/ethnic disparities in educational attainment are striking; nearly 19% of black and 30% of Hispanic residents in Toledo have less than a high school education, compared to about 12% of the white residents.

  • Chronic disease risk factors are prevalent among Lucas County residents; 65% of the county’s black residents and 79% of its Hispanic residents are either obese or overweight, while nearly 1 in 5 adults (19%) are current smokers.

  • Deaths from heroin and fentanyl, an opiate considered more potent than heroin, increased in Lucas County and surrounding counties from 145 in 2014 to 215 in 2015.

Community Actions: A First Look

Today, Toledo is investing in the revitalization of its downtown area, rebuilding its economy, and combating its most pressing health challenges.

Revitalization efforts are focusing on clean energy technology, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and extended-life batteries, while across the city and county, civic agencies and organizations are joining forces to educate the public on health risk factors and help shape targeted interventions. While the impacts of the city’s approaches are not yet fully realized, Toledo continues to address its traditional and emerging challenges.


These baseline reports, created in 2016, reflect our initial observations on select community programs and initiatives to gauge ongoing, as well as newer, efforts to improve community health. Future reports will provide more in-depth insights and analysis into this community's activities.

Going Forward: Questions for Consideration

Some of the major challenges affecting the health and well-being of Toledo’s residents are being addressed through a multilevel framework of government and community stakeholders. This approach addresses the unique roles of policy, systems, and the environment in promoting population-wide change. Early indications suggest that this approach may be beneficial in addressing complex problems such as chronic disease and infant mortality. However, continued progress will likely depend on the outcome of multisector collaborations and the extent to which these broad-based partnerships continue to work effectively. Additional surveillance, data and information gathering, analysis, and reporting will examine the progress of ongoing initiatives and assess their value as a model to address other health concerns.

The following questions provide opportunities for further exploration:

  • To what extent are community residents involved in multistakeholder efforts to improve options for healthy food choices; increase smoke-free housing options; and promote more physical activity?

  • Several initiatives to improve health and well-being in Toledo are at an early stage, including CDC’s Partnership to Improve Community Health and the Ohio Department of Medicaid’s efforts to reduce infant mortality. In advance of having measurable population-level outcomes—to what extent have these efforts generated ongoing commitment from partners; participation from community residents; and sustained implementation of evidence-based policy, system, and environmental change interventions?

  • How are stakeholders measuring the impact or outcomes of initiatives to improve options for healthy food and promote more physical activity?

  • Since the Pathways HUB model has shown success in addressing Toledo’s high rates of infant mortality, especially among black infants, which components of this model appear to be most meaningful?