Building Healthy Communities

Project Title

Evaluation of the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund Initiative, Phase 3

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Building Healthy Communities

Date Awarded

December 15, 2020







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.

Since 2015, NYHealth has invested more than $20 million in this initiative to support 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. This investment also has included support for an independent evaluation conducted by the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, with NYHealth support in 2015 and 2018, to measure outcomes and changes in the communities. As this initiative enters its final year of programming, it is important to determine its overall impact and provide lessons about whether, how, and why changes came about. In 2020, NYHealth awarded NYU a grant to complete its evaluation of the Foundation’s investment in expanding access to and demand for nutritious food and safe places for physical activity.

Under this grant, NYU completed its analysis of the efforts, processes, and changes made to increase access to healthy, affordable food and improve the built environment in each community. The evaluation helped determine the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund initiative’s impact at the community and individual levels, both of which were integral to demonstrating success. NYU measured community-level change in the availability and accessibility of healthy foods and safe spaces for active living, including individual-level behavior changes, social cohesion, and sustainability. It conducted site visits to grantee neighborhoods (with virtual visits as necessary); collected and reviewed programmatic documents; interviewed community residents and elicited photos; and offered the communities technical assistance and feedback to help them incorporate evaluation findings into their programs and use data to improve. Additionally, it focused on identifying the factors that enabled the communities to adapt during the COVID-19 crisis. NYU developed a comprehensive final report detailing the overall impact of the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund initiative, which was shared with each of the six communities and other key stakeholders.