Four Michigan cities – Flint, Pontiac, Lansing and Grand Rapids – have received $60,000 grants each from theRobert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Reinvestment Fund to improve health in low-income neighborhoods.

Of the 50 cities in 31 states selected nationwide, the Invest Health initiative received applications from 170 communities for the $3 million total grants. Eligible cities range in populations from 50,000 to 400,000.

Flint won for its plan to improve safety and the environment. The city also plans to invest some of the $60,000 over the next year to upgrade its food production systems.

Pontiac’s Invest Health team will use its funding to make the city a more walk and bike friendly community by expanding its nonmotorized transportation avenues.

“By creating more opportunities to live healthier, more active lifestyle, we can improve the quality of life for Pontiac residents,” said L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County executive, in a statement. “Invest Health transforms how our local leaders work together and connects to our countywide health improvement plan that aims to improve health outcomes. I salute the health division and our partners for these efforts.”

Pontiac also will identify locations that integrate people with health care, parks, healthy food and community centers.

Grand Rapids and Lansing were awarded funding to improve education, training and housing.

“Public officials, community developers, and many others have been working in low-income neighborhoods for years, but they haven’t always worked together,” said Donald Schwarz, M.D., vice president of Robert Wood, in a statement. “Invest Health aims to align their work and help neighborhoods thrive by intentionally incorporating health into community development.”

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by Jay Greene