Building Healthy Communities

Grantee Name

Multiple Grantees

Funding Area

Building Healthy Communities

Publication Date

October 2019

Grant Amount

19 grants totaling $1,049,997

Grant Date:

2014-2016

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The New York State Department of Health created the Prevention Agenda 2013–2017 to provide a framework and roadmap to foster statewide implementation of activities designed to improve population health in New York State.

All New York State counties were required to submit a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) on their strategies for advancing the State’s Prevention Agenda and how they would collaborate with health care institutions, local health departments, and community-based organizations to achieve their goals.

Despite the Prevention Agenda’s well-defined blueprint, it did not include State financial support for local health departments to implement their CHIPs. As the only statewide health foundation in New York, NYSHealth realized it could play a leadership role in convening stakeholders focused on improving community health and coordinating activities to address the goals of the Prevention Agenda. To help energize the implementation of the CHIPs, NYSHealth issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), “Advancing New York State’s Prevention Agenda: A Matching Funds Program to Implement Community Health Improvement Plans,” to support local health departments with the most innovative and feasible projects in executing their plans.

Through this RFP, NYSHealth invested $500,000 in 17 organizations to help 27 county health departments across the State advance the goals of the Prevention Agenda. NYSHealth also provided two grants totaling $549,977 to the New York Academy of Medicine (the Academy) to offer technical assistance to the local health departments and their community-based counterparts as they launched and carried out their CHIPs.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Supported a wide range of prevention efforts, such as increasing breast-feeding, reducing asthma-related emergency department visits, implementing Complete Streets policies, preventing falls among elderly New Yorkers, and providing nutrition education in schools.
  • Emphasized cross-sector collaboration among the grantees and community partners, which also gave communities a voice in the development of prevention-oriented strategies.
  • Offered technical assistance to the local health departments and their community-based counterparts as they launched and carried out their CHIPs.
  • Helped the State advance its goal for local health care institutions, health departments, and community-based groups to work collaboratively on identifying and implementing solutions to the major health risks in their communities.

Although most of the local health departments ultimately achieved their goals, many of the grantees struggled in the beginning phases of their projects with implementing and navigating their CHIPs. There was a general need among the grantees for information and guidance on how to monitor and evaluate plans; use place-based approaches to address health disparities; foster multisector partnerships and coalitions; and work with decision-makers to advance policy. To help them troubleshoot these issues, the Academy offered technical assistance to the local health departments and their community-based counterparts as they launched and carried out their CHIPs.

The Academy identified and supported the needs of the local health departments through a mix of individual and group technical assistance opportunities that were informed by evidence-based interventions to reduce health disparities. The support was responsive in nature and included:

  • Peer-to-peer learning collaboratives that included dynamic virtual meetings covering topics such as strategic interventions, evaluation, multisector partnerships, resource sharing, and solutions to shared challenges;
  • Topical Web-based presentations conducted by subject-matter experts, facilitated by staff from the Academy via videoconferencing;
  • Curated resources on relevant trainings and publications; and
  • Personalized assistance from implementation experts.

One challenge for the Academy was securing buy-in from some of local health departments, some of which did not believe they had a need for this kind of assistance. Some participants were unaware of capacity issues until they actually attempted to implement their CHIPs. However, once participants were engaged around a specific issue area, they became more interested and proactive about seeking support from the Academy. Competing demands for attention and emerging priorities also kept some local health departments from finding sufficient time for staff members to focus fully on Prevention Agenda activities and technical assistance participation. Some local health departments had limited programmatic budgets for interventions, and therefore opted not to participate in the technical assistance program. To address these time and resource constraints, the Academy offered recordings for those who could not attend the online sessions and focused resources on those counties that were ready to make changes to maximize impact. For example, while all participants had access to expert advice on health communications, the Academy’s technical content expert delivered much more intensive support to Putnam County, which was rebranding its health department’s communications. Similarly, the technical expert for Complete Streets worked closely with Rockland County on language and support for a new Complete Streets policy in one of its townships. Ultimately, the technical assistance reached every county in New York State.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: To be considered for funding, applicants were required to raise matching grants from local funders or other private investors (e.g., local businesses, hospitals, academic institutions). As a direct result of this requirement, NYSHealth leveraged an additional $587,507 in matching funds for the grantees.