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$7.5 million BUILD Health Challenge aims to bolster community health and health equity

General Foundation News

Partnerships of hospitals, local health departments and nonprofit community organizations eligible for funding.

Hospitals, public health and nonprofit and community organizations are invited to take part in a national competitive award program aimed at improving community health and promoting health equity.

The BUILD Health Challenge will support communities that are collaboratively working to improve health at a population level.


(Dec. 19) The Colorado Health Foundation has committed $1 million to join the BUILD Health Challenge. The additional funding allows the BUILD to support up to 17 communities across the country, including three in Colorado and brings total funding to $8.5 million.

Together, the funding partners will award up to $3.5 million in grants and up to $4 million in low-interest loans and other program-related investments over two years. The funding is expected to support initiatives in as many as 14 low-income urban neighborhoods across the United States. BUILD – Bold, Upstream, Integrated, Local and Data-driven – is a program created in a partnership of three philanthropies and a publicly traded company: the Advisory Board Company, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Kresge.

The goals are to:

  • Promote health equity
  • Reduce per capita health spending
  • Shift resources and attention from treating illness to the “upstream” social conditions that affect the health of large numbers of people
  • Create incentives for data-sharing and collaboration
  • Identify and promote replicable and scalable best practices

“Community conditions such as safe streets, affordable housing and economic opportunity play a powerful role in shaping health,” says Kresge’s Chris Kabel, a senior program officer. “Improving these community conditions will require cross-sector partnerships that share resources, responsibility and data in new ways. BUILD Health will support partnerships working in low-income, urban neighborhoods.”

Kresge’s Health Program and Social Investment Practice worked with the other funders to launch the program. Kresge works to expand opportunities for low-income people in America’s cities. Its Health Program seeks to reduce health disparities among children and adults by addressing conditions that lead to poor health outcomes. Its Social Investment Practice uses loans, loan guarantees and deposits in support of Kresge program goals.

The physical, social and economic environments play a far greater role than medical care in determining community health,says David Fukuzawa, who directs the Health Program. “There’s ample research to show this, but as a nation we devote very limited resources to addressing these problems.

“Health reform presents opportunities for new models of sharing resources, responsibility and data between health care, public health and a range of community-based organizations to improve the conditions that shape health,” he says. “With our partners, we want to support such collaborations, identify promising models and share them so they can be replicated.”

Kimberlee Cornett, managing director of the foundation’s Social Investment Practice, observes that improved health delivers personal and community level savings. Given that, she says, “we’re eager to invest in financeable models that can scale … and to bring multiple capital resources to BUILD to encourage and finance programs that may be sustained, in time, with non-grant forms of capital.”

To be eligible to apply for BUILD Health, applicants must:

  • Include, at minimum, the partnership of a hospital or health system, local health department, and nonprofit community organization or coalition of organizations. The nonprofit community-based organization must serve as the lead applicant in each proposal.
  • Focus activity within a delineated ZIP code(s), census tract(s), or neighborhood(s) experiencing significant health disparities within a city of 150,000 residents or more.
  • Be willing to participate in learning collaborative and openly share challenges, results and outcomes.

BUILD Health will award planning and implementation grants. Proposals must be received by 5 p.m. on Jan. 16, 2015.  Partners with promising proposals will be invited to submit additional information, which will be due in April. Grants will be awarded in June.

Additional information is available at