The city of Nampa has been selected by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to take part in the new Invest Health initiative. Invest Health is aimed at transforming how leaders from mid-size American cities work together to help low-income communities thrive, with specific attention to community features that drive health such as access to safe and affordable housing, places to play and exercise, and quality jobs.
Nampa was selected from more than 180 teams from 170 communities that applied to the initiative. Cities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000 were asked to form five-member teams including representatives from the public sector, community development, and an anchor institution, preferably academic or health-related.
Nampa’s team includes: • Clint Child, vice president of patient care services at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center Nampa • Andy Rodriguez, executive director at Nampa Housing Authority • Allison Westfall, director of community relations at Nampa School District • Bethany Gadzinski, director of quality improvement at Terry Reilly Health Services • Karla Nelson, community planner at the city of Nampa
The Nampa Invest Health team will build on existing work in the community to address health disparities in Nampa’s lowest income neighborhoods. The team will work with neighborhoods and community leaders to strengthen partnerships, determine needs and improve health.
“The Nampa Invest Health team brings together key community leaders from organizations that have the unique ability to collectively address multiple determinants of health including education, affordable housing, the built environment and primary health care,” Nampa Mayor Bob Henry said.
Mid-size American cities face some of the nation’s deepest challenges with entrenched poverty, poor health and a lack of investment. But they also offer fertile ground for strategies that improve health and have the potential to boost local economies. The program has the potential to fundamentally transform the way Nampa improves opportunities to live healthy lives by addressing the drivers of health including jobs, housing, education, community safety and environmental conditions.
“With a long history in community development finance, we are excited to help create a pipeline to channel capital into low-income communities through public and private investments,” said Amanda High, chief of strategic initiatives at Reinvestment Fund. “Our goal is to transform how cities approach tough challenges, share lessons learned and spur creative collaboration.”
Over the next 18 months, Invest Health teams will take part in a vibrant learning community, have access to highly skilled faculty advisors and coaches who will guide their efforts toward improved health, and receive a $60,000 grant. Nampa will also engage a broader group of local stakeholders to encourage local knowledge sharing. Learning from the program will be synthesized and disseminated through the project website.
“Public officials, community developers, and many others have been working in low-income neighborhoods for years, but they haven’t always worked together,” said Donald Schwarz, Vice President, Program at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Invest Health aims to align their work and help neighborhoods thrive by intentionally incorporating health into community development.”
Nampa’s projects will explore a broad range of ideas from food access to transportation improvements. Examples include bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, an open air food market and improved access to transit. Project teams will travel to Philadelphia for a June 7 kick-off meeting and will meet regularly to share lessons learned throughout the 18-month project. A full list of awardees and more information is available at www.investhealth.org.