Philadelphia, March 3, 2022—Reinvestment Fund announced $173,000 in grant awards to collaboration teams of Invest Health cities. These awards support opportunities for cities participating in Invest Health to deepen network connections and advance work in aligned areas at the intersection of community development and health.
Launched in 2016, Invest Health is an initiative of Reinvestment Fund in partnership with and funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The project’s goal is to support cross-sector leaders from small and mid-sized cities across the U.S. to develop new strategies to increase and leverage investments and drive community development projects that can improve health and well-being in neighborhoods with the most need. Currently, with efforts focused on “Sustaining the Network” of city teams, Invest Health is supporting groups of cities in learning from and with one another, sharing promising practices, and engaging experts to help catalyze work in each city. This new grant provides funding up to $33,000 to 6 different collaborations, with a total of 16 cities represented.
The proposed collaboration activities will be completed by early fall 2022. The collaborations Invest Health is supporting are:
- Aligning Justice and Equity – City teams from Savannah, GA; Missoula, MT; Napa, CA; and Stamford, CT are collaborating on a deep dive into justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging work that King County, Washington and Bellevue, Washington have undertaken in the past few decades. These city teams will travel to Washington state to engage stakeholders in understanding implementation, impact and challenges from these models for innovative and well-established diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies and programs. Teams will then work to impact equity with housing zoning policy changes locally and look at state plans to be inclusive of Health in All Policies
- Building Equitable Food Systems – City teams from St. Paul, MN; Buffalo, NY; Riverside, CA; Tallahassee, FL; and Grand Rapids, MI are collaborating to learn about promising practices to establish a reimagined food system that supports equitable food access and community wealth building. The cities will travel to Riverside and Buffalo. The Buffalo trip will focus on urban center population health agriculture-based strategies, health equity network, indoor growing climates, community cohesion as a food system connector to health, culture, and economic growth. In Riverside, teams will participate in a seminar on food systems and local food procurement, climate change adjustment, connecting farmers to large consumers, sustainability, and state level advocacy. These site visits present an opportunity to strengthen connections across cities and sectors, including influence on city government agencies and procurement practices.
- Advancing Equity in Affordable Housing Policy – City teams from Iowa City, IA; Henderson, NV; and Eau Claire, WI are collaborating on a shared research project to learn about effective housing policy models for housing investment and policy strategies. Through the engagement of a housing policy consultant, they will study the use and implementation of form-based codes. Teams will convene in Ft. Collins, CO, to meet with the consultant and Neighbor to Neighbor, an effective community development and housing nonprofit. After review of each city’s low density residential codes, cities will be advised on how to include zoning for denser housing and associated development incentives. Each city is looking to make incremental zoning policy changes that can ward off further inequitable housing practices.
- Operationalizing Health Equity Policy – City teams from Grand Rapids, MI; Richmond, VA; Gulfport, MS; Tallahassee, FL; and Missoula, MT are collaborating to learn, connect, and workshop with state level leaders and local community members connected to the Rhode Island Health Equity Zone work. While convening in Rhode Island, the cities will learn from each other’s projects and challenges. The Health Equity Zones are a case study of government engaging meaningfully with communities to address SDOH and bring corporate and public institutions to engage in the community towards meaningful action. Cities plan to further implement community based participatory research models as part of a community health needs assessment, as well as engaging state level stakeholders in the learning.
- Innovative Accessory Dwelling Unit Financing – City teams from Grand Rapids, MI, and Napa, CA are collaborating city teams to deepen their understanding of accessory dwelling unit (ADU) financing tools and see, in-person, Portland’s success with ADU models. Specifically, there would be a focus on how to address financing gaps through innovative loan solutions and incentives. Both city teams are excited to build upon their previous work in 2020 with the ADU virtual series on strategic casemaking, capital access, communications, policy and exemplars. Teams will target specific city stakeholders to advance ADU work with a focus on capitalization of ADUs and gain local context on the successful models in Portland.
- Deepening Anchor Institution Engagement – City teams from Roseville, CA, and Hartford, CT. are collaborating to strengthen anchor strategies to further leverage local opportunities with new anchors and strengthen established relationships. Teams will initially convene in Lake County, CA, during the aligned Wellville conference to bring health care anchor partners closer to the health equity conversations teams are initiating. Additionally, each city will host a separate trip to identify pandemic lessons on social and health care challenges. They will explore social determinants of health strategies to center community voice while engaging health care institutions and develop action plans to guide next steps.
“Invest Health collaborations are proposed, planned, and executed by the city teams in order to make the experience applicable to the community development landscape in these cities,” said Jennifer Fassbender, Program Director, Reinvestment Fund. “The collaboration activities, such as site visits, symposiums, and shared consultancies aim to sustain momentum and rally changemakers around common goals and understandings focused on advancing equitable policies, programs and practices. The ultimate goal is to improve health and wellbeing in these places, so Reinvestment Fund’s eager to support this responsive and flexible grant opportunity to strengthen cross-city relationships.”
The independent desire of the Invest Health collaboration teams to convene is a significant outcome of the initiative’s efforts to support teams in sustaining the learning community network. As collaboration activities occur throughout 2022, keep up with this work through our newsletter (subscribe at www.investhealth.org/news/). To learn more about the Invest Health initiative, visit www.investhealth.org. To learn more about Reinvestment Fund’s work, visit www.reinvestment.com.
About Reinvestment Fund
Reinvestment Fund is a mission-driven financial institution committed to making communities work for all people. We bring financial and analytical tools to partnerships that work to ensure that people in communities across the country have the opportunities they strive for: affordable places to live, access to nutritious food and health care, schools where their children can succeed, and strong, local businesses that support jobs. We use data to understand markets and how transactions can have the most powerful impact, which has consistently earned us the top Aeris rating of AAA for financial strength and four stars for impact management. Our asset and risk management systems have also earned us an A+ rating from S&P. Since our inception in 1985, Reinvestment Fund has provided over $2.4 billion in financing to strengthen neighborhoods, scale social enterprises, and build resilient communities. Learn more at reinvestment.com.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, we are working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.