Other Projects

MMS Education


Since 2017, Healthy Places by Design has partnered with MMS Education, a woman-owned consulting firm, in a variety of projects designed to advance the work of foundations and their grantees. Examples include:

  • Meeting planning, design, implementation, synthesis, and evaluation for a range of stakeholders focused on how to create healthier, more equitable communities; quickly pivoted to a virtual environment in 2020 and 2021, identifying creative ways to convene small and large groups for expert panels, task forces, grantee meetings, and peer learning sessions.
  • Exploratory research, including key informant interviews, literature reviews, and Call for Proposals development, to help inform the development of strategy and a foundation investment in health, equity, and climate change; additional coordination to facilitate program officer learning and “trend sensing” across the portfolio.
  • Design, management, and assessment of a pilot project to assess how an emerging inclusive healthy places framework could influence changes in professional practice; and
  • Planning and management of advisory committees to help inform the allocation of foundation resources.

"Healthy Places by Design is an amazing partner. They exceed all expectations, and are a real pleasure to work with."

Principal, MMS Education



Consultation and Planning for a Healthy Behaviors Request for Proposals (RFP)

Obici Healthcare Foundation

The Obici Healthcare Foundation, a health legacy foundation based in Suffolk, Virginia, retained Healthy Places by Design to provide strategic consultation and assist in the development of a new Request for Proposals for its Healthy Behaviors funding portfolio. The project consisted of several elements, including:

  • Assessment of current and previous funding;
  • Planning, implementation, facilitation and synthesis of multiple focus groups with community partners and potential grantees;
  • Development of a funding strategy and related materials (e.g., Request for Proposals, Frequently Asked Questions, Application Form, PowerPoint slides); and
  • Ongoing consultation and support to program staff.

"We’ve gone further with Healthy Places by Design than with other consultants. When a neutral party and issue-expert [like Healthy Places by Design] comes in and facilitates conversations, we can sit back and listen to the community and hear important nuances. They create a safer place for community members, and had an innate ability to understand where the community is and what is needed."

CEO, Obici Healthcare Foundation



Roadmaps to Health Action Awards

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: County Health Rankings & Roadmaps

The Roadmaps to Health Action Awards were designed to accelerate or advance efforts to improve health by strengthening the capacity of community members and leaders to make effective and lasting change. Twenty Action Awards recipients received coordinated support and services through direct, customized support from a Roadmaps to Health community coach; the opportunity to network and engage with thought leaders, national organizations, and other communities; and up to $10,000 in funding.

Part of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, Roadmaps to Health Action Awards was a collaboration between Healthy Places by Design, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Healthy Places by Design supported this initiative by:

  • Launching an inaugural portfolio of Action Awards to 20 community partnerships;
  • Consulting in the development of an engaging learning network plan and approach for Awardees;
  • Engaging in the overarching County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program and network and related field-building;
  • Providing services for program design and management, learning network consultation, and convenings and trainings; and
  • Creating webpages to serve as a content hub.



Active RVA Partnership

Sports Backers
Richmond Region, VA

The Sports Backers launched the Active RVA initiative to improve the quality of life for everyone in the Greater Richmond Region of Central Virginia through active living. Healthy Places by Design, (then Active Living By Design) provided guidance and support to Sports Backers staff as they created a robust Active RVA partnership made up of key local leaders and dozens of local organizations. The partnership, which incorporates the principles of a collective impact initiative, has the facilitative support of Sports Backers and strives to make the Richmond region the most physically active in the country.

"Working with [Healthy Places by Design] deepened our expertise and put us in contact with networks and resources that are essential as we look at improving the quality of life in our region." 

Outreach Manager, Active RVA



Assessment of Investments in Community-Based Disease Prevention

Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust (KBR) retained Healthy Places by Design (then Active Living By Design) to conduct an assessment of the Trust’s recent and current investments in community-based disease prevention and to make recommendations for the Trust on future program investments. Our organization engaged in an assessment to:

  • Build an understanding of KBR’s recent and current investments in community-based disease prevention, including outcomes and impact;
  • Build from our organization’s work with local, state, and national partners to gain an understanding of alternate funding models, including strengths and weaknesses of other philanthropies’ investments in community-based disease prevention projects; and
  • Confirm what is working well and develop recommendations to help inform KBR’s future grantmaking in community-based disease prevention.



Active Living Health Promotion

Interact for Health

Interact for Health improves the health of people in the Cincinnati region by being a catalyst for health and wellness. Active living was is one of the organization's five core areas and includes investments through the Join the Fun and Physical Activity Environments initiatives. Healthy Places by Design (then Active Living By Design):

  • Provided training in active living policy, systems, and environmental strategies for Interact For Health’s current and potential grantees and Board of Directors members;
  • Facilitated discussion with Board and staff members to identify future active living investments to include in Interact for Health’s strategic plan; and
  • Advised program staff on various grant program components including sustainability, learning networks, application and work plan processes.



Healthy Food Systems

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation
State of North Carolina

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation funded eight grantee partnerships in North Carolina to improve food systems in order to increase access to healthy, local food in the grantees’ communities, focusing on rural areas or low-income communities in urban areas of the state. To support this work, our team:

  • Conducted ongoing site visits and needs assessments to ensure the learning network activities meet the needs of the overall grantee portfolio;
  • Led the development and implementation of annual two-day learning network convenings to provide technical assistance in relevant content areas (like communications and sustainability) as well as opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and networking; and
  • Connected individual grantee partnerships with experts and resources that are part of Healthy Places by Design’s broad network.

“[Healthy Places by Design] led the technical assistance on our Fit Together grant program and is now leading our learning network of food systems grantees. Their knowledge, professionalism, and expertise are unparalleled.”

President, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation



Active Living Minnesota

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Minnesota State

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s Active Living Minnesota (ALM) program funded eight organizations across the state. Working in partnership with others, each community implemented comprehensive ways to support active living in their counties, cities, towns, and neighborhoods through environmental and policy changes, with an emphasis on changing the built environment. Healthy Places by Design (then Active Living By Design) provided coaching, sustainability training, strategic planning assistance, and capacity-building around active living expertise.

“We have learned so much from Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design] over the years [from] their grounding in theory and research, fortified by their own practical insights and thought leadership about changing places to support health. They helped us develop a philosophy and practice of working with communities: Make it fun. Walk the talk. Listen in earnest. These are essential, intangible elements of our funding practice that we owe to them.”

Senior Project officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota



North Carolina Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and Health Impact Assessment

Alta Planning and Design
North Carolina State

Alta/Greenways led the development of WalkBikeNC, North Carolina Department of Transportation’s pedestrian and bicycle statewide master plan update and worked to ensure that health was a strong component. To support this work, our organization identified existing best practices for incorporating health into pedestrian and bicycle planning; developed priority strategies, health performance indicators, and case examples highlighting successful local projects; coordinated an expert Health Advisory Team; and supported UNC partners to conduct a Health Impact Assessment.

“Throughout my 30 years of working with communities and partners, health has become more and more important. We were fortunate to have [Healthy Places by Design] bring their unique expertise to the WalkBikeNC planning process. Their contributions to WalkBikeNC were invaluable to our team and the client.”

Senior Advisor, Alta Planning



Port Towns Community Health Initiative

Kaiser Permanente
Port Towns Region of Maryland

Kaiser Permanente funded the Port Towns Community Health Partnership (PTCHP), a collaboration of youth and adult residents, schools, nonprofit and business organizations, congregations, local government leaders and funders, to support healthy living and health equity in the Port Towns region of Maryland through policy, systems, and environmental change. Our team provided technical assistance, capacity building, convenings, trainings, tool and resource development, and strategic feedback on the initiative.

“Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design] came highly recommended by my colleagues as leaders in helping communities advance policy and systems-level strategies to build healthy communities. I was immediately struck by their ability to set the right tone for effective community conversations. They're careful listeners, as sensitive to what's unspoken as to what's spoken, and they create the right balance between guiding and allowing group thinking to unfold.”

Director, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States



Active Living Sustainability Plan

Crim Fitness Foundation
Flint and Genesee Counties, MI

The Crim Fitness Foundation (the Crim), a Flint, MI-based non-profit organization, is dedicated to cultivating accessible, vibrant communities in Flint and Genesee County that encourage people to lead healthy lifestyles by integrating physical activity, healthy eating, and mindfulness into their daily lives and mentoring other communities to do the same. In 2012, the Crim developed a five-year sustainability plan for active living in Flint and Genesee County, MI. Healthy Places by Design (then Active Living By Design) supported this initiative with planning process development, stakeholder interviews and analysis, guidance for writing a sustainability plan, including identification of a vision, values, goals, and recommended strategies.

“Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design] and their team provided essential guidance in helping us assess our strengths and opportunities for where we might provide the greatest impact and improvement in the health status for people in our community. They demonstrated both compassion and understanding for meeting the serious challenges of our community.”

CEO, Crim Fitness Foundation



Communities Putting Prevention to Work

North Carolina Division of Public Health

The North Carolina Division of Public Health (DPH) developed the Shape Your World promotional campaign, which emphasized the role residents can play in shaping their environments to be more active. DPH also developed and provided the Move More Scholars Institute, an intensive, four-day training course for community-based physical activity professionals in North Carolina, patterned after the national Physical Activity in Public Health Course. Our organization provided consultation on program design; developed and delivered of workshops on the built environment; and presented at public meetings.

“Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design] is a key partner for the North Carolina Division of Public Health. Their local, state, and national perspective has been invaluable in their work with us on the Move More Scholars Institute and the Communities Putting Prevention to Work Project."

Manager, Community Approaches for Prevention Unit, NC Division of Public Health



Obesity Prevention in Public Health Course

University of North Carolina Center for Training and Research Translation

The Obesity Prevention in Public Health Course addressed the shifting priorities and challenges that public health practitioners face when working in state and community-level nutrition, physical activity, and obesity-prevention programs. This unique course offered an informal learning environment, with an emphasis on interactive teaching, peer learning, and small group workshops. The primary goal of the Obesity Prevention in Public Health Course was to promote and support evidence-based practice with a focus on implementing and sustaining effective policy and environmental change interventions. Our team supported this work through course planning and design assistance as well as the development and delivery of workshops and value-added activities like story slams.

“Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design] continues to be a valuable resource for North Carolina and beyond. Their team has offered us considerable support over the years with the planning and delivery of the Obesity Prevention in Public Health Course. They are our 'go-to expert' for community-based healthy eating and physical activity interventions... they have extremely talented staff who are passionate about their work, well connected to the community, and leading the movement to create a culture of healthy eating and active living across the country.”

Training Unit Director, UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention



Fit Community

North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund and North Carolina Division of Public Health
North Carolina State

A designation and grant program, Fit Community recognized and rewarded community-based efforts to make healthy choices easier and more accessible across North Carolina. Healthy Places by Design (then Active Living By Design) supported 28 municipal- and county-based partnerships with technical assistance to increase routine physical activity and/or healthy eating by focusing on policy and environmental change strategies in communities. Our team helped 27 Fit Community awardees across North Carolina create sustainable community change in schools; gardens; work sites; parks and trails; and pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. We also developed and disseminated a comprehensive case studies document.

“I recently visited a community in a low income area. A park with a community garden thrives, and the community center’s dance class has been so successful that the dance instructor has had to adjust classes to allow more and different children to be able to participate. This wouldn’t have happened without the important partnerships developed and nurtured by Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design] and the Fit Community grantee.”

North Carolina Division of Public Health



Strategic Planning

Health by Design

Health by Design is a diverse and growing coalition, bringing together advocates of community design, transportation, and health to support healthy and active living in Central Indiana and beyond. In 2011, Health by Design created a three-year coalition development plan and a one-year programmatic action/evaluation plan to improve local policies and environments for a healthier community. Healthy Places by Design (then Active Living By Design) provided visioning, coaching, consultation, technical assistance, strategic planning, and evaluation services.

“Working with the Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design] team was the best investment of time, energy, and resources we’ve made to date in our Health by Design strategic planning efforts. On the technical side, their experience and expertise with regard to building healthy communities is unparalleled. Beyond that, their broader understanding and appreciation of coalition management issues made our work together that much more impactful. It’s been exciting to fulfill many of the goals we committed to paper during that planning process!”

Executive Director, Health by Design



Food & Fitness

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Food & Fitness, funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, supported nine diverse communities across the country to improve the health and quality of life of children and their families by creating equal access to affordable, healthy, locally grown food and safe and inviting places for physical activity and play. Our organization supported this initiative by providing comprehensive active living and built environment policy and systems support to the Foundation, its multidisciplinary technical assistance team, and its grantee communities during the initiative’s two-and-a-half year planning phase.

“Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design] was instrumental in teaching our community how to convene and focus groups around a common interest and how to understand and use the built environment to increase physical activity opportunities. As a result, the Philadelphia Food and Fitness Alliance was able to establish shared use agreements with the faith community allowing children to play in a safe environment.”

Managing Director, Health Promotion Services, Public Health Management Corporation



Fit Together

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation
North Carolina State

The Fit Together Grant Program was established to support five rural North Carolina community partnerships to improve community health and increase physical activity utilizing Healthy Places by Design [then Active Living By Design]'s Community Action Model. For more details, read Communities on the Move, a Fit Together report. Our organization also provided the following support:

  • Grant program design and management;
  • Grantee network development;
  • Coaching and technical assistance;
  • Convenings and training events;
  • Tool and resource development; and
  • Field building with local, state, and national partners.



PLACE Program

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
Los Angeles County, CA

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health established the PLACE Program (Policies for Livable Active Communities and Environments) to create policy, systems, and environmental change that make physical activity a routine part of daily life in Los Angeles County cities and communities. Healthy Places by Design (then Active Living By Design) supported this work with program design and development assistance; CFP consultation and proposal reviews; guidance on and participation in site visits; and consultation in the design of technical assistance and learning network activities.

“The active living movement in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds… If there’s one organization that has done more than anyone to nurture this growth, it’s Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design]. They guided, inspired, and supported incipient efforts across the country, generously sharing your experience and expertise along the way.”

Director, PLACE Program, Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, LA County Department of Public Health



Active Community Assessment and Engagement

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Minnesota State

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota's Active Community Assessment and Engagement (ACAE) Program provided funding and technical assistance to help guide three communities in Minnesota. A stakeholder engagement process resulted in a shared vision for active living and a plan for rallying community support to implement their vision. Healthy Places by Design (then Active Living By Design) supported this work through program design assistance; CFP development and proposal reviews; design of technical assistance; hands-on facilitation of planning and assessment workshops; and consultation on learning network activities.

“We were a novice funder when we started working with Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design. They provided so much more than direct technical assistance to funded groups. They helped us refine our goals and navigate the early experience so we could reflect on and learn from that first effort. More than just a service provider, they were a generous thinking partner, sharing their experiences and challenging our assumptions, to help us be more effective with our funding.”

Senior Community Prevention Consultant, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota



Design For Health

University of Minnesota Metropolitan Design Center
Twin Cities Region, MN

The Metropolitan Design Center brings together many fields of design and research to advance creative design strategies for achieving sustainable development of cities and regions in the State of Minnesota, including support for the development of comprehensive plan updates among municipalities in and around the Twin Cities. Our organization reviewed and provided feedback on case studies and information sheets developed by the Metropolitan Design Center with funding from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. These were disseminated on the Design For Health website. We also supported the development of comprehensive plan updates among municipalities in and around the Twin Cities.

“We were delighted to have an opportunity to collaborate with Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design]. Their knowledge of how urban planning and design impact public health helped us develop innovative resources to support municipalities in the development high-quality comprehensive plans.”

Director, Design for Health and Professor of Urban Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design



Pathways to Healthy Living

National Park Service

The National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program supported community-led natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the nation. Its national network of conservation and recreation planning professionals partnered with community groups, nonprofits, tribes, and state and local governments to design trails and parks, conserve and improve access to rivers, protect special places, and create recreation opportunities. Healthy Places by Design (then Active Living By Design):

  • Helped build the capacity of RTCA community planners to engage in active living policy, partnerships, and environmental change work.
  • Assisted RTCA with a training for the RTCA Pathways to Healthy Living, a nationwide initiative to encourage outdoor physical activity in national parks and local communities, to demonstrate practical approaches for public land managers and community leaders who want to encourage active lifestyles.
  • Consulted with RTCA staff on strengthening existing community partnership projects and strategies for engaging the health community in new partnerships focused on expanding and promoting trails and greenways.

“Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design] helped RTCA staff incorporate walkability and complete streets models into our community projects and helped us realize we needed to better engage health practitioners. I've also promoted the [Community Action] Model with many of my community trails and greenway projects.”

Outdoor Recreation Planner National Park Service, Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program New Mexico Field Office