Building Healthy Communities
Where we live affects our health in multiple and complex ways. Poor health indicators are concentrated in neighborhoods that are most disadvantaged by society’s social, economic, and housing inequities. Communities that have been neglected, rural communities, and communities of color face a disproportionately high burden of chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes.
NYSHealth seeks to improve neighborhood health by (1) expanding access to and demand for nutritious foods and (2) expanding access to safe places where residents can be more physically active. Improving these conditions can play a role in reducing neighborhood-level health disparities.
Healthy, Affordable Food and Physical Activity
NYSHealth partners with community leaders in six neighborhoods across New York State to create healthier communities. These convening bodies work with community-based organizations, government agencies, and foundations across multiple sectors on a range of activities to improve neighborhood health in:
Since 2015, NYSHealth has invested $8.5 million in this initiative and has leveraged an additional $181 million in funding for the six neighborhoods—helping nearly half a million New Yorkers have greater access to healthy, affordable food and safe places to be physically active. The New York Community Trust joined NYSHealth in a complementary initiative to invest in three neighborhoods in the South Bronx.
See an assessment report of the key successes, challenges, and lessons learned from our first three years of work in the six neighborhoods.
For more information about this priority area, contact Program Officer Bronwyn Starr
As Program Officer, Bronwyn Starr focuses on NYSHealth’s priority area on building healthy communities, which leads neighborhood-level and policy interventions to increase residents’ access to healthy, affordable food options, improve the built environment, and link communities with healthy lifestyle programming. Ms. Starr also has managed projects to support county health departments in reducing health disparities and preventing chronic disease; expand primary care access and capacity in the most rural parts of New York State; and increase recruitment and retention of New York State’s primary care workforce.
Prior to joining NYSHealth, Ms. Starr led a program at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that helped primary care providers improve medication adherence for their patients. She previously worked in the international health sector with Catholic Relief Services and Planned Parenthood, and was a New York City emergency medical technician for 10 years.
Ms. Starr holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Oregon and a Master of Public Health degree from New York University. She serves on the steering committee for Community Food Funders.
, Program Officer Nupur Chaudhury
As Program Officer, Nupur Chaudhury focuses on NYSHealth’s priority area on building healthy communities, which leads neighborhood-level and policy interventions to increase residents’ access to healthy, affordable food options, improve the built environment, and link communities with healthy lifestyle programming.
Ms. Chaudhury brings a background in community-based health, urban planning, and community organizing. Prior to joining NYSHealth, Ms. Chaudhury was the director of neighborhood health development at the Center for Health Equity, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In her role there, she led the expansion of the Shop Healthy program, aimed at changing the food retail environment in the City’s poorest neighborhoods, and was also part of the planning team developing the City’s Neighborhood Health Action Centers. She has also worked with Rebuild by Design as a resiliency planner post-Hurricane Sandy by building and strengthening neighborhood coalitions in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Prior to that, Ms. Chaudhury was the first health coordinator for the Brownsville Partnership, developing its agenda linking the built environment, health, and violence to its work on active living and healthy eating.
Ms. Chaudhury holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bryn Mawr College, a Master of Urban Planning degree from New York University, and a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University. She is a member of the American Public Health Association and American Planning Association, as well as serves on the boards of Made in Brownsville and University of Orange.
, or Senior Program Assistant Liz Ward
Senior Program Assistant
As Senior Program Assistant, Liz Ward directly supports the Vice President and the team of program officers and associates responsible for NYSHealth’s work on building healthy communities and veterans’ health. She is responsible for assisting senior management and program staff with event coordination, grants management, grantee communications, background research, and financial accounting. She works closely with program staff to help design and develop grant opportunities.
Prior to joining NYSHealth, Ms. Ward worked as an executive assistant for a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm. She was responsible for assisting with event planning, communications, public relations, and general administration. Ms. Ward also worked as a paralegal for the Consumer Assistance Program at Health Law Advocates and as a development intern at Health Care for All, both in her hometown of Boston. She also worked at the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the Western MA Food Bank, where she assisted people with their SNAP benefits applications and helped organize community outreach events.
Ms. Ward earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Health, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and a certificate in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
The Building Healthy Communities program generally does not release Requests for Proposals (RFPs). The majority of our funding is by invitation only.
If your organization works in one of the six neighborhoods and you have a project that fits within the Foundation’s program goals of improving access to healthy and affordable food and opportunities for physical activity, please contact the staff listed above. We encourage you to review our Building Healthy Communities grants to better understand the Foundation’s work.