Building Healthy Communities



Funding Area

Building Healthy Communities


December 13, 2022

In 2015, NYHealth launched its Building Healthy Communities priority area, a place-based initiative 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 Lower East Side, Manhattan.

In response to the growing body of evidence that our ZIP code has a greater impact on health than our genetic code, NYHealth sought to help these six communities transform themselves and address a range of factors that affect health. Over a 6-year period, NYHealth invested more than $20 million and leveraged an additional $181 million in overall funding for this initiative.

A report by New York University School of Medicine evaluates the impact of NYHealth’s investment and partnerships within the communities it supported. It analyzes how changes were initiated in healthy, affordable food access; access to safe physical activity; community and resident engagement; and collaboration and coalition-building.

A report by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors assesses how NYHealth designed and implemented its Building Healthy Communities priority area, sharing findings and lessons that the philanthropic sector can draw from. Case studies also provide an in-depth look at projects and outcomes in all six neighborhoods.

NYHealth also funded larger-scale advocacy campaigns in an effort to support sustained policy changes beyond the six neighborhoods. Significant projects include:

  • A campaign to make universal school lunch a reality for all school children in New York City’s public schools.
  • Support to grow the farm-to-school movement in New York State.
  • A statewide expansion of the Double Up Food Bucks nutrition incentive program.

On January 19, 2023, NYHealth hosted a webinar discussion on best practices and lessons learned from its Building Healthy Communities initiative. Watch the webinar recording here.