June 9 marked the one-year anniversary of the BUILD Health Challenge’s announcement of the inaugural group of grantees. In just its first year, BUILD communities have made incredible strides in tackling health disparities, addressing the social determinants of health, and creating the conditions for long-term health improvement.

The diverse range of projects includes:

  • Improving the built environment by revitalizing urban parks and enhancing community centers
  • Mitigating food insecurity by planting urban gardens, deploying mobile markets, and subsidizing healthy food
  • Creating livable homes by renovating substandard housing, addressing toxic lead paint, and retrofitting outdated utilities
  • Breaking entrenched cycles of violence, both in the community and at home, through parenting classes, school interventions, and trauma-informed care
  • Strengthening urban economies by offering job training, incentivizing the development of new businesses, and providing legal services to disadvantaged groups

There’s much more beyond that – learn what each BUILD Health community is working to achieve.

Engaging local voices to drive community change

Food deserts represent a huge obstacle to health in areas like West Oakland, putting the health of its residents at risk. Without access to healthy, affordable food, individuals are more likely to experience chronic stress, malnutrition, obesity, and related diseases. San Pablo Area Revitalization Collaborative’s efforts to address the West Oakland food desert led to the creation of the area’s first full-service grocery store in more than a decade.

Peoples-Market Plan

The planned People’s Community Market in West Oakland will play a significant role in addressing a persistent food desert.

Just shy of four hundred miles south, with the support of Youth Driven Healthy South Los Angeles, ten local youth were trained as Community Health Liaisons to help identify and craft upstream solutions for health issues plaguing Historic South Central Los Angeles. The youth have conducted key informant interviews, presented their findings at a series of town hall meetings, and received stakeholder buy-in to solutions for improving their community’s high prevalence of diet-related diseases.

Setting the stage for long-term impact through informed policy solutions

BUILD partners in Cleveland, Engaging the Community in New Approaches to Healthy Housing, continue to advance their campaign to rid the city of toxic lead paint, which can lead to developmental challenges and lifelong health issues. Their efforts have benefited from the attention and support of Sen. Sherrod Brown, who has drafted federal legislation to better protect Ohio families and called for increased funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

In Texas, the Harris County BUILD Health Collaborative provided impetus for the development of a package of economic incentives clearing the way for the City of Pasadena to build its first vertical farm. This public-private partnership will provide fresh produce to low-income families in North Pasadena, TX, who experience higher rates of illness than the rest of the county.

In Seattle, Seattle Chinatown—International District BUILD Health partners coordinated a series of community meetings to better understand barriers to health and wellbeing in the neighborhood. Safety and crime were identified as major sources of chronic stress and sedentary behaviors, especially after last year’s murder of a community leader. The BUILD Health partners spearheaded a survey to inform the development of recommendations to the City for improved neighborhood safety, making direct links between safety and community health.

Community Health Liaisons in South Central Los Angeles

The youth Community Health Liaisons in South Central Los Angeles are working to create strategies for long term health equity.

Continuing to learn and grow as we venture into our second year

As our first year comes to a close, we’ve had an opportunity to reflect on some important lessons we’ve learned. Following a presentation at the Grantmakers in Health Annual Conference, Chris Kabel shared the funders’ “Five Lessons on Successful Philanthropic Collaborations,” discussing their insights from collaborating across sectors and with different missions – a model of collaborative partnership that is mirrored in BUILD communities.

As we move into our second year, the word on the tip of everyone’s tongues is “progress.” We look forward to seeing partnerships continue to grow stronger and deeper, more milestones reached as the BUILD projects continue to gain momentum, and increased opportunities to support the incredible work being done on the frontlines in our 18 BUILD communities across the nation.

Looking toward the future, we hope to bring the themes of momentum and progress to the next round of applications. We intend to reach more communities, engage more funders, and diversify the BUILD community with even more approaches to improving population health and reducing health disparities. We are exceedingly thankful for all of the individuals who have contributed to the mission of the BUILD Health Challenge in its first year and look forward to seeing our communities continue to succeed. With that – stay tuned for more!

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