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About Invest Health

Invest Health is an initiative of Reinvestment Fund in partnership and with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that began as a forum for 50 cities to define community needs and investment challenges, devise solutions, and align investment capital, other resources and policies to address the social determinants of health.

The initiative provided a starting point for cross-sector leaders in small to mid-size cities across the country to strategize and align with community development finance experts, local, regional and national philanthropic networks, and public funding streams to build healthier, more equitable communities. Over the course of the initiative, Reinvestment Fund supported Invest Health city teams as they developed strategies for improving resident well-being in neighborhoods facing the biggest barriers to health and opportunity. Teams focused on one or more of the key social determinants of health (e.g., housing, safety and resilience, transportation, education and employment, and local food systems and production) and worked to address these issues through built environment projects, such as affordable housing, development of community centers, homeless shelters, or medical centers; established healthy food retail; and improved parks, sidewalks, public lighting, and other features to facilitate safe recreation and walkability. Throughout this work, city teams learned how to use data to drive decisions, community trust-building and authentic engagement, the importance of cross-sector collaboration, and the need to prioritize health and equity in all facets of their work.

Program Supports and Activities

City teams convened up to 9 times over the course of the 18-month initiative to build capacity and cross-sector partnerships both within their own cities, and with other cities across the U.S. An evaluation by Mt. Auburn Associates described the initiative’s success with city teams achieving a clearer understanding of the relationship between built environment and health; deepened commitment to addressing issues of equity and engaging with communities; progress on development of built environment projects; and strengthened cross-sector teamwork with expanded collaboration efforts.


Future Directions

Now is the time to invest in the potential of small to mid-sized cities. The pockets of affordability, ability to pilot promising strategies and changing demographics make opportunities to center equity issues particularly important. Reinvestment Fund and RWJF have continued learning with the Invest Health city teams and are exploring how to change systems that would support channeling capital to smaller places.


Watch our video short:

What gives small to mid-sized cities an edge in community development? Hear from Invest Health Field Building city team members and expert panelists who convened in Baltimore in October 2019 as they answer the question. Speakers include:

– Debbie Oto-Kent, Health Education Council
– Lauren Lowery, National League of Cities
– Kyle Julien, East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation
– MacArthur Sims, East Market Street Development Corporation
– Lisa Beczkiewiecz, Missoula City-County Health Department
– Joyce Jong, City of Riverside