Reinvestment Fund, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is pleased to announce the launch of the third phase of the Invest Health initiative, Sustaining the Network. The Sustaining the Network phase will focus on 1) deepening and fostering the sustainability of collaborative connections within and across Invest Health cities 2) sharing learnings with other small to mid-sized cities seeking to advance more equitable community investment systems.
The Invest Health initiative, beginning in 2016, brought together 50 small and mid-sized cities from across the US to conduct innovative community development activities that incorporate the social determinants of health, forming cross-sector collaboratives that brought together stakeholders in government, healthcare, development, and local communities. Invest Health was unique among programs at the time for naming equity as a goal for built environment interventions. The program’s second phase, Field Building, ran from 2018-2020 and provided ten of the initial 50 cities with technical support to help advance a pipeline of equity-promoting projects and share learnings with one another to build their cross-city network. Sustaining the Network will bring all 50 cities back together to maintain their cross-sector collaboration and broaden the Invest Health learning community.
Activities will include at least three virtual convenings per year, at which city teams will share lessons on COVID recovery, models of advancing equity, community participation, and other cornerstones of the Invest Health work. Teams will also self-organize convenings based on geography, topic areas, and shared or similar local opportunities. Previous self-organized events have included the Virtual ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) Convening in October 2020, organized by four Invest Health Field Building city teams (Napa, Riverside, Grand Rapids, and Missoula) who have been working on systems change in their respective cities around ADU policy as an affordable housing tool. These convenings, designed by Invest Health city teams, held great value for their participants in grounding them in different local contexts and identifying replicable strategies. Funding opportunities for groups of city teams for collaborative activities will facilitate the planning of these convenings as well as other collaborative work. Honing communication strategies will also be a key goal for Sustaining the Network – city teams will explore, with Reinvestment Fund, ways to broaden the dissemination and application of Invest Health principles and learnings in other small to mid-sized cities.
Another opportunity for city teams to help shape Sustaining the Network will be the initiative’s advisory group. Thirty-two team members, representing more than half of the 50 cities, volunteered to participate in the advisory group, which will provide guidance on all aspects of the initiative, bridging city teams and the administrative team at Reinvestment Fund. The group will guide the planning and content of virtual convenings, advise on and contribute to Invest Health publications, weigh in on re-grant activities, and act as ambassadors to share Invest Health principles and learnings to other small to mid-sized cities seeking to advance more equitable community investment systems.
Invest Health city teams have shown eagerness and initiative to jump into this third phase, including the 40 cities who were not directly involved in Field Building, many of whom readily volunteered to join the advisory group. Seven Field Building cities are represented in the final group, with the other 18 cities coming from the first phase. This willingness to hit the ground running, even with the extra burdens of COVID-19 that many are shouldering, demonstrates the value teams see in their Invest Health work and the longevity of the initiative. Reinvestment Fund, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Sustaining the Network city teams are looking ahead and making bold changes in the community investment system, changing the game for small and mid-sized cities nation-wide.
For questions about this new initiative, email firstname.lastname@example.org.