SPRINGFIELD – An alliance of local organizations was awarded a national grant of $75,000 on Tuesday to improve the health and well-being of the Old Hill community ranging from healthy food options to housing and neighborhood revitalization.
The local grant was among awards totaling $8.5 million earmarked in grants and low interest loans for 18 low-income urban neighborhoods nationwide under the BUILD Health Challenge, a national awards program.
The “Healthy Hill Initiative” grant in Old Hill will focus on “bringing together community champions from six sectors to restore the community from the ground up,” according to a news release from BUILD Health. The listed six sectors are: healthy food and food justice; housing and neighborhood stabilization, youth engagement and education; workforce and job training; public safety; and public health, health care, and health data.
The local organizations taking a lead role in the Healthy Hill Initiative are HAPHousing, Baystate Health Systems, Sisters of Providence Health Systems, the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services, and Partners for a Healthier Community
The initiative will continue and expand on current efforts including: housing remediation to address asthma; community gardens to engage youth leaders and create green spaces; anti-drug coalitions working to reduce youth substance abuse and other programs, the announcement states.
Old Hill is “characterized by high levels of poverty, unemployment, and crime as well as extreme segregation by race,” according to the news release.
“Old Hill residents experience disproportionally high rates of chronic disease, including heart disease, strokes, and asthma, and infant mortality is 2.5 times higher than in the state of Massachusetts as a whole,” the release states.
The BUILD Health Challenge is funded nationally by The Advisory Board Company, the deBeaumont Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The 18 urban communities chosen are the first round of grants are the first round award recipients.