Building Healthy Communities

Grantee Name

Healthy Neighborhoods Fund Grantees

Funding Area

Building Healthy Communities

Publication Date

April 2018

Grant Amount

$2 million invested over the course of 2 years.

Grant Date:

2015-2017

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In 2015, NYSHealth launched a new priority area, Building Healthy Communities, focused on improving access to healthy, affordable foods and safe places for physical activity in six diverse neighborhoods throughout New York State: Clinton County; Brownsville, Brooklyn; East Harlem, Manhattan; Near Westside, Syracuse; North End, Niagara Falls; and Two Bridges, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

In February 2015, NYSHealth announced the selection of six Healthy Neighborhoods Fund communities—three in New York City and three upstate, representing half a million New Yorkers—along with the community convener organizations to lead the work. The grantee organizations were diverse and ranged from large county health departments to small grassroots neighborhood coalitions, reflecting the communities that they serve.

This grant outcome report documents NYSHealth’s approach to develop the new priority area; identify targeted neighborhoods, partners, and grantees; adapt and adjust its work over time; and assess its progress and impact. It also spotlights accomplishments and challenges of the first three years of NYSHealth’s work in this area. Evaluation efforts and results to date in this place-based investment are highlighted, along with technical assistance activities to further support the neighborhoods in achieving their goals. The report concludes with a look ahead at next steps for community transformation in these six neighborhoods, as NYSHealth has reauthorized its commitment to this initiative for an additional three years through 2020.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Access to Healthy Food: Over the two-year time period, 25 new access points to healthier food were been created across all Healthy Neighborhoods Fund communities. Availability of farmers markets  increased by 25%. Grantees worked with more than 26 small local food retailers, 21 farmers markets, 16 farm stands, 2 urban farms, 2 fresh food box distribution centers, and 2 food pantry networks. At these sites, improvements were seen in the selection of healthy foods, beverages, and snacks for sale; enhanced acceptance of SNAP benefits; and distribution of fresh food to local residents. Grantees also worked to increase demand by offering supermarket tours, conducting cooking demonstrations, and providing nutrition lessons and food incentive coupons to participants.
  • Improvements to the Built Environment: Tens of millions of dollars were committed to parks and open spaces in the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund communities as a result of our grantees’ advocacy and community engagement. Improvements were made to approximately 50 parks and public spaces, including creating walking trails and wayfinding signage, establishing free, formal exercise programs, and activating unused public spaces. Programming encouraged people to visit and use the spaces for physical activity

Read the full grant outcome report.

Co-funding and Leverage: NYSHealth’s initial investment has leveraged an additional $181 million in funding for the six communities— helping nearly half a million New Yorkers residing in these communities have greater access to healthy, affordable food and safe ways to be physically active.