Capturing Community Change

A five-year, $15.5 million investment in the Active Living by Design (ALbD) community partnership leveraged $256 million in community improvements and produced “substantial and measurable results” in all five ALbD strategies tracked in a progress reporting system (PRS).

The ALbD initiative provided a maximum of $200,000 over five years to 25 community partnerships across the country to be used to make it easier for people to be active in their daily lives. Each partnership received access to a web-based, diary-style PRS, designed to track progress on the five ALbD strategies intended to influence community change. The PRS was not designed to record the impact of those strategies. Data was collected within the PRS from June 2004 (retroactively to the grant’s November 2003 start) through October 2008. This paper is part of a three-year cross-site evaluation started near the end of Year 3 of ALbD funding.

Key Findings:

  • All 25 partnerships leveraged ALbD resources to raise additional direct or in-kind contributions, grant awards, or policy project dollars; 437 additional resources, totaling $256 million, were raised.
  • ALbD garnered 2,656 instances of media coverage of the partnerships, or of active living issues closely related to program goals.
  • The ALbD partnerships led or contributed to 115 policy changes to foster active living, and created or expanded 115 physical activity programs.
  • The partnerships created or improved 45 community planning products (such as, making neighborhood plans more bike- or pedestrian-friendly), and improved the physical environment in 188 instances.
  • Overall, Year 2 was the most active and successful for ALbD grantees.
  • The PRS had limitations; most notably, its diary style relied too heavily on the reporting diligence and skill of users, and made it difficult to capture distinctions in significance between results.

The ALbD was very successful in leveraging resources and results, and has led to the institutionalization of many active living initiatives.