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Health Program sharpens focus on improving conditions that affect community health


Kresge’s Health Program has refined its grantmaking strategy to reflect external changes, like the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and lessons learned through the activities funded over the past several years.

“We’re more persuaded than ever that the right place to focus is on the upstream factors that affect community health,” says David Fukuzawa, managing director of the program.

Some 70 percent of a population’s health is affected by the physical, social and economic environments, he notes. “Addressing things like access to affordable, healthy food, housing and transit are especially critical for low-income communities, which have higher rates of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. We believe that path toward better health for these communities lies in improving the overall environments.”

Kresge works to expand opportunity in America’s cities. Its Heath Program seeks to help communities overcome economic and social disadvantages so that all Americans can enjoy productive, self-determined lives.

The refinement in the Health Program is reflected in new names for its two focus areas:

  • Developing Healthy Places
  • Accelerating Community-Centered Approaches to Health

“They’re an evolution of the model we’ve been using,” says Fukuzawa.

Developing Healthy Places adds emphasis on place-based, community-driven aspects of efforts to improve healthy housing and neighborhoods, food systems that benefit low-income neighborhoods, and equitable land-use and transportation.

Accelerating Community-Centered Approaches to Health calls on all participants in the broader health system – hospitals, clinics, providers, payers and others – to work together in addressing the social and physical conditions that affect health.

“We’ve long believed that cross-sector partnerships were important and that’s really been reinforced in work with a number of partners,” says Fukuzawa. “We also see some shift from a medical orientation toward a health orientation. That’s encouraging, but there’s a lot more to do.”

Related policy activities and support for leadership development in public health are other key parts of the Accelerating Community-Centered Approaches to Health portfolio.

Kresge’s Health Program team continues to accept proposals from nonprofit organizations. Prospective applicants should review more program descriptions, which include guidance on specific areas where funding is currently available. Existing multiyear commitments limit the dollars that will be available this year.