Connect

Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC), an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) from 2008-2014, supported multidisciplinary partnerships in 49 communities across the country to promote changes to local policies, systems, and environments that foster healthy living and prevent childhood obesity. Our final report to the field, Growing a Movement, shares how HKHC increased children’s access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity through changes in community policies, systems, and environments.

HKHC evolved from RWJF’s Active Living by Design program, in which 25 community partnerships across the country aimed to change the built environment and support public policies to make physical activity part of everyday life.

HKHC broadened this focus to include policy and environmental strategies that would increase access to healthy food as well as to physical activity for children and families at greatest risk for obesity. The program focused on lower-income communities, communities of color, and Southern states, where the risk of obesity was greatest. This was RWJF’s largest community-based initiative focused specifically on reversing the obesity epidemic.

As the national program office for the initiative from 2008-2014, Active Living By Design [now Healthy Places by Design]:

  • Established a network of grantees that implemented over 1200 policy and environmental changes to prevent childhood obesity, including over 350 farmers’ markets and community gardens, 200 complete streets policies, 60 healthy food retail changes, and 120 improvements to the design, quality, and accessibility of parks and recreation.
  • Helped partnerships leverage grant funds to generate an additional $127 million in cash and in-kind support.
  • Planned and hosted five multi-day annual grantee meetings that included field trips, experiential learning, national speakers, local perspective, and innovative opportunities for peer learning and networking.

Additional services provided included:

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

Highlights:

  • Established a network of grantees that implemented over 1200 policy and environmental changes to prevent childhood obesity, including over 350 farmers’ markets and community gardens, 200 complete streets policies, 60 healthy food retail changes, and 120 improvements to the design, quality, and accessibility of parks and recreation.
  • Helped partnerships leverage grant funds to generate an additional $127 million in cash and in kind support.
  • Planned and hosted five multi-day annual grantee meetings that included field trips, experiential learning, national speakers, local perspective, and innovative opportunities for peer learning and networking.

Communities

In 2009, nine communities from across the country were funded to implement healthy eating and active living initiatives to support healthier communities for children and families. In 2010, 40 more joined the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities cohort. Efforts by each site focused on reaching children who are at greatest risk of obesity because of their families’ income, race or ethnicity. These communities were:
  • Baldwin Park, CA
  • Benton County, OR
  • Boone and Newton Counties, AR
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Caguas, PR
  • Central Valley, CA
  • Charleston, WV
  • Chattanooga, TN
  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbia, MO
  • Cook County, GA
  • Cuba, NM
  • Denver, CO
  • DeSoto, Marshall, and Tate Counties, MS
  • Edgecombe and Nash Counties, NC
  • El Paso, TX
  • Fitchburg, MA
  • Flint, MI
  • Grant County, NM
  • Greenacres, Lake Worth, and Palm Springs, FL
  • Greenville, SC
  • Hamilton County, OH
  • Houghton County, MI
  • Houston, TX
  • Jackson, MS
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Jefferson County, AL
  • Kane County, IL
  • Kansas City, MO/KS
  • Kingston, NY
  • Knox County, TN
  • Louisville, KY
  • Milledgeville, GA
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Moore and Montgomery Counties, NC
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Oakland, CA
  • Omaha, NE
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Portland and Multnomah County, OR
  • Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Rochester, NY
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Seattle and King County, WA
  • Somerville, MA
  • Spartanburg County, SC
  • Washington, DC
  • Watsonville and Pajaro Valley, CA

Resources

Growing a Movement

This report provides an overview of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities national program, which supported 49 partnerships to increase children’s access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity through changes in policies, systems, and environments in communities at greatest risk for childhood obesity based on race, ethnicity, income, and geographic location. Growing a Movement includes common themes, key findings and brief vignettes, along with implications for the field that are valuable for local leaders, partners and funders alike.

View the full PDF of Growing a Movement.


Infographic

This infographic provides a high-level overview of the grantees’ collective work.

View the full infographic.


Program Results Report: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Transtria LLC (St. Louis) and the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis evaluated Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities. Transtria’s CEO, Laura K. Brennan, PhD, MPH, led the evaluation team.

View the full report.


Journal of Public Health Management: Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Evaluation Issue

The Journal of Public Health Management and Practice just released a supplement highlighting evaluation insights and successes of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities National Program. A special thanks goes to Transtria, the evaluation lead.

Click here to read the full supplement.


Videos