Activating Public Spaces: A Public-Private Partnership to Build Healthy Communities in New York City
Building Healthy Communities
August 10, 2015
A neighborhood’s access to space for physical activity and healthy food has direct impact on residents’ health. In New York City, densely populated, poverty-stricken neighborhoods often have been neglected in receiving public investment for preservation, rehabilitation, and activation of open spaces and playgrounds.
This has led to lopsided health opportunities that leave disadvantaged communities behind. The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City (Mayor’s Fund) facilitates high-impact public-private partnerships throughout the City’s five boroughs. The Mayor’s Fund has oversight of The Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnership (MOSP), a nonprofit organization that oversees and directs partnerships among City agencies and the private sector to support public programs. MOSP is well positioned to influence action in underserved communities. In 2015, NYHealth awarded the Mayor’s Fund, as MOSP’s fiscal sponsor, a grant for MOSP to engage organizations in activating newly renovated spaces in New York City-based communities targeted by NYHealth’s Healthy Neighborhoods Fund initiative.
Under this grant, MOSP housed a program manager to coordinate the activation and sustainability of public spaces in Healthy Neighborhoods Fund communities in New York City. MOSP worked with these communities to enhance programming for residents to be more physically active; create farmers markets to increase access to fresh food; and transform derelict spaces into plazas that increase foot traffic and help make neighborhoods safer. Specifically, MOSP partnered with the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, GrowNYC, and Shape Up NYC to support the project. The Neighborhood Plaza Partnership assisted with maintaining the newly activated public spaces, GrowNYC supported the establishment of new farmers markets in these spaces, and Shape Up NYC expanded fitness class offerings and outreach for residents. In addition to the three targeted partner organizations, any additional organizations that emerged were vetted jointly by NYHealth and MOSP as community partners.