This evaluation highlights successful plans, processes, and strategies from Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities for system, policy, and environmental changes aimed to increase active living and healthy eating.
About Health Kids, Healthy Communities
In 2007, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced a bold and unprecedented commitment of $500 million to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity by 2015—especially in communities at greatest risk based on income, race, ethnicity, and geographic location. To support this work, the Foundation launched an array of complementary initiatives aimed at building the evidence base; testing advocacy approaches; and supporting on-the-ground action to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC), a five-year, $33.4 million national program, was one of the Foundation's earliest such investments. Building on previous successes, HKHC was designed to address the policies, systems, and environments that make it easier for low-income children and their families to engage in physical activity and play, and to access healthy food in their communities.
As part of its strategy, RWJF funded 49 multidisciplinary partnerships across the country, with a special focus on 15 southern states where health disparities were most significant. The selection of Active Living By Design to lead the national program office and Transtria, LLC, to lead the evaluation leveraged these organizations' experience in addressing the systemic issues that contribute to physical inactivity and unhealthy eating—using a broader healthy community lens. Key elements of HKHC included funding; ongoing technical assistance and consultation; a peer learning network; and participatory evaluation.
Beginning in March 2009, multiple evaluation methods were designed to assess policy, system, and environmental changes as a result of the community partnerships’ efforts, including the HKHC Community Dashboard website; a partnership and community capacity survey; and group model building.
Transtria LLC and Washington University Institute for Public Health received funding from RWJF to evaluate the HKHC national program. The evaluation team, led by Tina Kauh, senior program officer at RWJF had the following objectives:
1) to coordinate data collection for the evaluation through the web-based project management system (HKHC Community Dashboard) and provide training and technical assistance for use of this system; 2) to guide data collection and analysis through use of the Assessment & Evaluation Toolkit; 3) to conduct a quantitative cross-site impact evaluation among a subset of community partnership sites; and 4) to conduct a qualitative cross-site process and impact evaluation among all 49 community partnership sites.
The cross-site strategies implemented by HKHC were evaluated through relevant methods (policy assessment; environmental audits; photos or videos; direct observation) and consistent measures, where feasible. Data collection capitalized on existing assessment efforts in place across all 49 HKHC community partnerships and new information collected on site visits by the evaluation team. Other methods (e.g., qualitative data from the HKHC Community Dashboard) and innovative methods (e.g., cost assessment, group model building) were intended to supplement these findings.