From Portland, ME, to Riverside, CA, from Flint, MI, to Gulfport, MS, cross-sector teams from 50 cities gathered in Philadelphia in early June to launch the Invest Health learning community at our inaugural convening. Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, charged the group with an ambitious goal: “Creating a new, highly-networked approach to community investment. One that recognizes that health is the bedrock of personal fulfillment, and the backbone of prosperity, and also recognizes that mid-sized cities can lead the way.” You can watch her full talk here.

Teams brought a great depth of experience and knowledge and diversity of perspectives. They laid the foundation for their work during the next 18 months to improve opportunities for low income communities through food access, public safety, housing, employment, and more.

Glenn Harris of the Center for Social Inclusion addressed the group on the effects of bias in social systems and the built environment, how to recognize and confront inequality, and how to build equity through their work at home. Glenn’s talk is available here.

Participants also heard from CDFI Fund Director Annie Donovan, who shared insights about how the community development field has evolved and the exciting opportunity presented by increased collaboration between the community development and health sectors. Annie also engaged in discussion with Reinvestment Fund President and CEO Don Hinkle-Brown, covering topics including attracting local partners and capital, new models for developing affordable housing, and other innovations in the field. Annie’s talk and her discussion with Don are available here.

Annie returned to the stage in the afternoon for a discussion with representatives from two Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize-winning communities – Everett, MA and Lawrence, MA.  Heather McMann from Groundwork Lawrence and Bob Marra from Everett Community Health Partnership discussed both the challenges, and the opportunities, of cross-sector collaboration and how their communities started to “look upstream” at the social determinants of health. Their discussion with Annie is available here.