Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge

American Public Health Association and Aetna Foundation



In 2020, American Public Health Association (APHA), Aetna Foundation, National Association of Counties (NACo), and Healthy Places by Design teamed up to support 20 city- and county-level teams in advancing health equity within their communities through the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge. The Challenge is an exciting initiative designed to accelerate systems-level approaches to improving community health with a focus on equity, collaboration, and community engagement.


Our Support

Working with APHA, Aetna, and NACo, Healthy Places by Design leads the Challenge initiative’s peer learning network. Monthly virtual sessions include webinars, peer exchange sessions, and topical ad hoc discussions. These learning sessions lay a foundation for grantees’ leadership, capacity to engage their communities, and the sustainability of their efforts. By serving as host and facilitator, Healthy Places by Design creates the space needed to work through power dynamics and have honest conversations about community change.


“Working with Healthy Places by Design has been one of the highlights of this initiative since the start. The team’s commitment to equity aligns perfectly with the spirit of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, and our 20 community-based grantees deeply value the peer-to-peer connections that Healthy Places by Design so thoughtfully curates each month.”

Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge Project Director, APHA

Learn more about this project on our blog:


Communities Rising to the Challenge: Coming Together, Reflecting on an Uncertain year

One year ago, 20 Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge (HCCC) teams across the nation began their collaborative journeys to improve access to food and health services in their communities—by changing systems and policies through diverse partnerships and the engagement of resident leaders. With the support of national partners and other community teams, project leaders have begun to prioritize and self-organize around common strategies.

Read More

Planting and nourishing the seeds for change: HCCC teams are excelling at community engagement and spurring multisector partnership gains

At a time when a global pandemic made it harder than ever for people to connect, teams from the 20 Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge communities have found ways to successfully grow their partnerships and raise awareness about solutions in their communities related to accessing food and health services.

Read More