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Advancing community-led action & proven, place-based strategies to ensure health & wellbeing for all.

We are strategic partners for communities and those who invest in them, helping turn visions of health equity into lasting impact. Drawing on our experience supporting hundreds of community partnerships, we strengthen assets and enhance efforts to grow an enduring culture of health and wellbeing.

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Investing in a partnership strategy with Healthy Places by Design is an effective approach to healthier communities.

Since 2002, we have provided extensive, direct technical assistance, coaching, and consultation to more than 200 community partnerships in 42 states, and has worked with more than two dozen philanthropies.

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Socially Connected Communities

Social isolation is not a personal choice or individual problem, but one that is rooted in community design, social norms, and systemic injustices. We must reshape our communities in ways that support meaningful social connection among residents, improve trust between neighbors, and strengthen an overall sense of belonging and community connection. Find resources and action steps you can take here.

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For Funders Committed To Reducing Inequities

Do the members of your community truly work together to meet pressing community need? Is there widespread recognition that collaboration is a precondition for success?

With the Healthy Places by Design’s Collaboration Lab™, you can activate the capacity of the leaders in your community – emergent and traditional, of all experiences and backgrounds – to be confident, effective collaborators in service to positive systems-level change.

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For Funders Committed To Reducing Inequities

Do the members of your community truly work together to meet pressing community need? Is there widespread recognition that collaboration is a precondition for success?

With the Healthy Places by Design’s Collaboration Lab™, you can activate the capacity of the leaders in your community – emergent and traditional, of all experiences and backgrounds – to be confident, effective collaborators in service to positive systems-level change.

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Community Action Model

The Community Action Model was developed with insights from more than a dozen years of supporting successful community health initiatives and a deep understanding of the community change process.

The model highlights themes and lessons about community-led change that transcend even the most disparate places and is relevant for a variety of community health goals. It can be tailored for community coalitions, local leaders looking for a collaborative process to building healthy communities, and to funders seeking a tested approach for local investments. It also outlines expected impacts.

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Community Context

Our work with local leaders in 35 states has underscored the importance of community context—every place is unique.

Two communities in a similar geographic setting, with comparable population and demographics, can still have radically different histories and cultural characteristics that influence their health. Recognizing, honoring, and accounting for a community’s context matters at every stage of the work. When funders, local leaders, and partnerships fully recognize and understand these unique community settings, strategies and tactics can be aligned with and leverage various dynamics at play.

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Essential Practice

Health Equity Focus

An intentional focus on reducing health disparities in communities by eliminating avoidable and unjust health inequities affected by social, economic, and environmental conditions.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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Essential Practice

Community Engagement

An intentional process of empowering people to authentically engage in and contribute to the planning and implementation of solutions within their own communities.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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Essential Practice

Facilitative Leadership

A capacity-building and management approach that shifts power and influence among engaged partners in order to produce actions and outcomes that are generated by and best serve a group rather than one or two strong or vocal leaders.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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Essential Practice

Sustainable Thinking

A consideration of the social, environmental, and economic assets and opportunities that are necessary for successful and lasting community change.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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Essential Practice

Culture of Learning

Ingrained, ongoing opportunities in a community to improve effectiveness and impact through partnerships, continual assessment of initiatives, and collaborative sharing and learning.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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Essential Practice

Strategic Communication

A goal-driven method of communication that aligns messages and tactics with communities’ priorities and audiences’ values, recalibrates based on measurable results, and strives for an evolving dialogue.

The Essential Practices are critical for creating meaningful and sustained change in communities. They address how to be most effective, sustain impact, and the people who community change initiatives should engage and strive to serve. The practices are not implementation steps; rather, they are interwoven within all stages of the Community Action Model.

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3P ACTION CYCLE

Partner

Partner with others to address complex issues. While positive community changes are often championed by strong and passionate leaders, sustained impact requires broader multi-disciplinary and cross-sector coalitions that set collective priorities and act in concert.

The 3P Action Steps are not necessarily linear; rather, this community change process is iterative. Leaders of healthy community change initiatives can determine their own communities’ strengths and weaknesses within each step and address any gaps accordingly as they continue to increase their capacity to effect change.

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3P ACTION CYCLE

Prepare

Prepare continuously to succeed. Preparation is not limited to the early stages of a community-change initiative. Rather, it is the ongoing and deliberate process of assessment and re-assessment; prioritizing and planning; building capacity; and leveraging resources.

The 3P Action Steps are not necessarily linear; rather, this community change process is iterative. Leaders of healthy community change initiatives can determine their own communities’ strengths and weaknesses within each step and address any gaps accordingly as they continue to increase their capacity to effect change.

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3P ACTION CYCLE

Progress

Progress by identifying and implementing practical strategies. Just as each community exists in a unique context, placed-based community change initiatives may not all follow the same formula, and some strategies will result in varying levels of impact and sustainability.

The 3P Action Steps are not necessarily linear; rather, this community change process is iterative. Leaders of healthy community change initiatives can determine their own communities’ strengths and weaknesses within each step and address any gaps accordingly as they continue to increase their capacity to effect change.

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Community Action Model

The Community Action Model was developed with insights from more than a dozen years of supporting successful community health initiatives and a deep understanding of the community change process.

The model highlights themes and lessons about community-led change that transcend even the most disparate places and is relevant for a variety community health goals. It can be tailored for community coalitions, local leaders looking for a collaborative process to creating healthier places, and to funders seeking a tested approach for local investments. It also outlines expected impacts.

Learn More

Our Blog

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10.19.22

Community Achievements Mark Wrap-Up of Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge

Note: This article is cross-posted on APHA’s Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge Communities4Health blog and Healthy Places by Design’s blog.

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9.29.22

From Honolulu to NYC, Intergenerational Strategies Are Tackling Social Isolation

Intergenerational strategies pack a multiplier effect when it comes to building socially connected communities. Read highlights from our recent discussion with local leaders who are deeply engaged in creating intergenerational connections in their communities.

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9.14.22

In Solidarity: Community Support for Health Equity

In Solidarity is a new resource offered by our longstanding partners at County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. Read our latest blog to learn more about how this podcast fulfills a unique niche and will help anyone engaged in community health equity efforts.

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8.31.22

Why We Joined the Fight Against Tobacco Inequities

Engaging people most impacted by an issue is vital for effective community solutions. This blog features the work of Black-led organizations that are charting a courageous path by reducing tobacco disparities in the Mississippi Delta and beyond.

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8.11.22

Measuring Social Connectedness in Local Communities

Interesting, innovative new models are emerging nationwide for measuring the degree to which community members are connected or disconnected from one another. Read highlights from our recent discussion on measuring social connectedness.

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7.25.22

How Fiscal Sponsorship Advances Social Justice

We recently spoke with Asta Petkeviciute, Chief Financial Officer for Social Impact Commons, about the parallels between the fiscal sponsorship community and the mission of nonprofits, especially those focused on social justice. Read more in our latest blog.

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7.13.22

Service, Community, and Partnership

As his time as Chair of our Advisory Board comes to an end, Niiobli Armah IV reflects on his 13-year relationship with Healthy Places by Design, lessons learned, and continued opportunities. Read more from Niiobli in our latest blog.

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6.8.22

How Two Funders Support Socially Connected Communities

As part of an ongoing virtual learning network series, we recently hosted a conversation with local leaders to learn how funders embed social wellbeing into their work. Read this blog for a summary of the conversation.

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