By Christopher Smith, Senior Program Officer at the Colorado Health Foundation

At the Colorado Health Foundation, our mission is that together, we will make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. We use the word “together” intentionally, because we truly believe that the only way for communities to reach their highest and healthiest potential is through collaboration. By engaging stakeholders at every level – from individual, to doctor, from clinic, to community – every Coloradan has an opportunity to be an active participant in their own health, and in that of their loved ones and neighbors. It is building and fostering these important relationships that make positive health impacts possible.

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For this very reason, the BUILD Health Challenge is a natural extension of the Foundation’s work. In particular, it aligns with our strategy to support communities to prevent disease and improve population health. This unique collaboration offers us the opportunity to accelerate our work by leveraging a partnership of national entities (from philanthropy and the private sector) leading efforts to improve community health. Through our participation, the Foundation and the participating Colorado communities will learn from other innovative population health improvement work occurring across the United States.

The Colorado Health Foundation focuses its funding in three areas – Healthy Living, Health Coverage and Health Care.

  • In Healthy Living, our focus is to ensure every kid in Colorado has the opportunity to eat healthy and engage in physical activity.
  • In Health Care, our focus is to ensure all Coloradans achieve health with support from a network of primary health care and community services.
  • In Health Coverage, our focus is to ensure all Coloradans achieve stable, affordable and adequate health coverage.

The Colorado projects selected for the BUILD Health Challenge have potential to touch each of these areas in high need communities. But the strength of their planning grants lies in collaboration. Each of these communities continue to demonstrate a strong and tireless commitment to engaging with their residents in an effort to identify and address barriers to health.

In Aurora: Together Colorado, Children’s Hospital Colorado, and Tri-County Health Department are focusing to improve the first 1,000 days of children’s lives – from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday – by increasing access to behavioral health screening and support in three ZIP codes experiencing significant socio-economic disparities.

In Colorado Springs: YMCA of Pikes Peak Region, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, and El Paso County Public Health are mobilizing their community by identifying and supporting community leaders to address barriers to services, care, and safe environments.

In Denver: The Civic Canopy, Denver Health’s Community Health Services, and Denver Public Health are currently engaging residents in five neighborhoods in northeast Denver that face crippling early childhood adversity to leverage resources and ensure children are thriving by the time they enter school.

We commend these partnerships, and the pioneers guiding these ambitious efforts, for their commitment to authentically engaging their communities to work on solutions to address health disparities. Watch this video to learn more about how communities across America, including three from Colorado, are identifying and addressing health needs together.

We are also honored to be a part of this innovative national collaboration, the BUILD Health Challenge. We look forward to learning from our partners – The Advisory Board Company, the Kresge Foundation, the de Beaumont Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – and the communities in other states to strengthen relationships, collaborate and build healthier communities.

Together, with our BUILD partners, we can make a positive health impact not only in Colorado, but throughout the nation.

About the Colorado Health Foundation

The Colorado Health Foundation works to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation by ensuring that all Colorado kids are fit and healthy and that all Coloradans achieve stable, affordable and adequate health coverage to improve their health with support from a network of primary health care and community services. To advance our mission, the Foundation engages the community through grantmaking, public policy and advocacy, private sector engagement, strategic communications, evaluation for learning and assessment and by operating primary care residency training programs. For more information, please visit www.ColoradoHealth.org.

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About the Author

Christopher Smith is a senior program officer in the Healthy Living outcome area at the Colorado Health Foundation, where he is engaged in a variety of projects and initiatives to promote healthy schools and communities throughout the state. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2012, he was responsible for managing the City and County of Denver’s affordable housing programs. Christopher is a licensed Colorado architect and holds master of architecture and master of arts in urban planning degrees from the University of California in Los Angeles.