Earlier this year, the Build Healthy Places Network and The Kresge Foundation awarded Joining Forces Planning Grants to three BUILD Health Challenge communities. These six-month grants supported planning activities to establish collaborations between BUILD grantees and Community Development Finance Institutions, or CDFIs.

The three BUILD communities receiving Joining Forces Planning Grants were:

  • Addressing Healthcare’s Blindside in Albuquerque’s South Side, which is working to implement a membership rewards program to incentivize healthy behaviors and develop a tracking system to promote health behaviors among patients beyond the clinical setting.
  • The Harris County BUILD Health Collaborative in Texas, which is supporting the development of a new food system that is healthy, sustainable, affordable, accessible, and community-supported, from production to distribution and consumption.
  • The Healthy Hill Initiative in Springfield, Massachusetts, which is working to revitalize the Old Hill neighborhood through community development, including improving housing, bringing a grocery store to the neighborhood, and providing job training to local residents.

Six months later, these BUILD communities are ready to share their progress. They will discuss their experiences on October 5 at 1 pm EST (10 am PST) in Build Healthy Places Network’s live online discussion series, the Network Commons. (Learn more and register to attend!) The discussion will be moderated by Colby Dailey, Managing Director of the Build Healthy Places Network, and led by:

  • Jennifer Hadayia, Senior Policy Planner, Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services
  • Michelle Melendez, Development Director, First Choice Community Healthcare
  • Jay Minkarah, President & CEO, DevelopSpringfield

Jennifer Hadayia, Michelle Melendez, and Jay Minkarah will speak about CDFIs at the next Network Commons.

Interested to learn more? Check out the blog posts they wrote for a sneak peek!

Building Community Around Food Access

Jay Minkarah, President & CEO, DevelopSpringfield

“Developing a full-line grocery store in the Mason Square section of Springfield, Massachusetts has been a cornerstone project for DevelopSpringfield and a central focus of our BUILD Health Challenge Healthy Hill initiative… The greatest obstacle facing the Mason Square supermarket project is our inability to secure a viable operator… Our CDFI partners are now at the table with us and our community partners helping to develop solutions to the challenges facing the supermarket initiative rather than simply responding to requests for financing once the project is ripe.”

Three Ways that Connecting with CDFIs is Furthering Health Equity Goals in Harris County

Jennifer Hadayia, Senior Policy Planner, Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services

“Constructing, scaling, and sustaining the urban farm is essential to achieving our BUILD vision. But, after a year of planning and some roadblocks in financing and site acquisition, we realized that it also takes a new set of partners – partners with a common mission of investing in disadvantaged areas and the know-how about capital projects with social impact goals. Partners like community development financial institutions (CDFIs)… Though our plan’s still in progress, joining forces with CDFIs has already expanded our perspective and our practice in three key ways.”

Addressing Healthcare’s Blindside in Albuquerque’s Southside by Joining Forces

Michelle Melendez, Development Director, First Choice Community Healthcare

“Creating healthy communities often requires hard capital, not just program support. As a non-profit health care system with a vision for building a $22 million “wellness ecosystem,” we need the capital… First Choice is planning a 10-acre platform from which to launch health-promoting enterprises including a food hub, farm-to-table-style restaurant, early childhood development center, health professions charter school and “aging well” wellness center.”

It’s easy to attend Network Commons, even if you’ve never been to a live online discussion. Here’s how:
  • Register hereAfter registering, login information will be sent via email.
  • Log in on October 5 from 10:00am-11:00am PST / 1:00-2:00pm EST. The conversations will also be archived on our YouTube Channel if you are not able to catch it live.
  • Join the conversation before, during, or after the event on Twitter by using the hashtag #NetworkCommons.
For more information
  • The Build Healthy Places Network to catalyze and support collaboration across the health and community development sectors, working together to improve low-income communities and the lives of people living in them.
  • Follow Build Healthy Places Network on Twitter, and follow the discussion online with #NetworkCommons.
  • Learn more about what’s happening with BUILD Health in AlbuquerqueHarris County (TX), and Springfield (MA).