Building Healthy Communities

Project Title

Near Westside Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Building Healthy Communities

Date Awarded

February 9, 2015


Central NY




Growing evidence shows that our ZIP code has a greater impact on our health than our genetic code. The neighborhoods in which people live—where family members play, study, work, and worship—affect health in multiple and complex ways.

Good health outcomes are more prevalent in neighborhoods where people have easy access to nutritious, affordable food; safe and walkable streets; and active playgrounds and public spaces. Living in neighborhoods without these essentials, residents are more likely to be burdened with high rates of obesity, diabetes, or other chronic illnesses. To tackle some of the underlying problems that have affected the health of communities, NYHealth launched the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund initiative to help New York State communities become healthier and more active places. Through the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund, NYHealth is supporting six communities across the State in their efforts to increase access to healthy, affordable food; improve access to safe places where residents can exercise and be active; and connect children and adults to programs that support healthy behaviors. In 2015, NYHealth awarded Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion (Lerner Center) a grant to participate in this initiative.

Under this grant, Lerner Center worked in the Near Westside neighborhood of Syracuse, collaborating with a local supermarket to increase residents’ knowledge of, access to, and purchase of healthier foods. Lerner Center worked with the supermarket on the implementation of a food-rating system, a new loyalty card program, and the transfer of grocery-shopping data to electronic medical records. Projects to improve the built environment included the renovation of an underused field house and soccer court.

In 2017, NYHealth continued its commitment to the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund, investing an additional $2.5 million over the next three years in support of these communities. Under the second phase of the initiative, the Center for Court Innovation built on the efforts of the first phase, led by the Lerner Center, in the Near Westside.

Learn more about the Near Westside and efforts to improve the health of residents.

See a full list of the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund grantees.