An Update on the History and Focus of the Build Healthy Places Network
The Build Healthy Places Network expands on the work of the Healthy Communities Initiative and RWJF’s Commission to Build a Healthier America. It was founded in recognition that a national network connecting sectors and promoting and enabling cross-sector collaboration is critical for ensuring that all people have the opportunity to live healthy and rewarding lives.
Its work builds on the Healthy Communities Initiative, a multi-year effort led by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to deepen cross-sector collaboration. This series of conferences at regional Federal Reserve Banks around the country bring leaders from multiple sectors together to examine the ways in which where people live, learn, work and play affect health. Over 20 Healthy Communities conferences have convened around the country since 2010. The work is guided by the 2014 recommendations of the RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America, which called for action to "support and speed the integration of finance, health and community development to revitalize neighborhoods and improve health."
The Problem: Sectors Working in Silos – The nearly one-fifth of Americans who live in low-income communities have fewer opportunities to achieve healthy and rewarding lives. Many of the root causes of poverty and poor health are the same, and the community development and health sectors have worked for decades to address these challenges. However, these two sectors have often worked separately, even when serving the same places and people.
As a result, challenges such as siloed work streams, underestimated value and impact of work, inefficient use of resources, policy roadblocks and unrecognized investment opportunities persist. Today we know that factors related to health, employment, education, housing and neighborhoods are linked. Place does matter, and in many cases your Zip code is more important than your genetic code in determining your health. We need coordinated action to build communities where all people can live healthy and rewarding lives.
The Build Healthy Places Network works to connect leaders and practitioners, provide capacity-building tools to make partnerships easier and curate examples of what works to highlight cross-sector innovation and build the evidence base for collaboration.
By joining forces, the community developers and health professionals can have a more powerful impact in improving the health and opportunity of low-income neighborhoods.