We are at a unique moment in U.S. history where there is both an imperative and new opportunities to link and leverage innovations in public health, health care, and community development. Advances in geographic information systems (GIS) technology and increased availability of public data bring attention and focus to geographic concentrations of health inequities and make the case for collaboration. The Affordable Care Act’s expansion of coverage and movement towards global budgeting require the health care sector to shift their focus to strategies that keep populations healthy. The community development sector is exploring the impact potential of its investments beyond the economic and social to what is needed to make communities healthy.
Meetings in regional Federal Reserve offices over the last four years have highlighted the health benefits of targeted investments by financial institutions, and stimulated dialogue to explore the alignment of these investments with health improvement strategies. Targeted technical assistance is needed to develop, validate, and scale strategies that align investments and interventions across sectors, with a focus in neighborhoods where health inequities are concentrated. With generous funding from the Kresge Foundation, the Public Health Institute (PHI), in partnership with The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) has launched a 5-year national initiative to provide support to selected local communities.
About the Alignment for Health Equity and Development Program (2014-2016)
The Alignment for Health Equity and Development (AHEAD) initiative aimed to:
Align the resources of health and community development stakeholders into balanced portfolios of investment in comprehensive health improvement strategies with a shared measurement system;
Focus resources in neighborhoods where health inequities were concentrated; and
Build a field of practice that provides the tools, evidence, and models to support local scaling and replication across the country.
The AHEAD initiative was launched in November 2014 with an 18 month planning process in five pilot communities, including Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, Dallas, TX, Detroit, MI, and Portland, OR. AHEAD activities at each site were managed by regional or statewide organizations that serve as Core Intermediaries to support a local planning process. This included the selection of a neighborhood of focus, engagement of organizational and local community stakeholders, formation of a Convergence Working Group, providing analytic support, meeting facilitation for the collaborative development of a model strategy with common metrics and a monitoring process, and the designation of a local entity to serve as a backbone infrastructure to support the implementation of the model strategy. PHI and TRF provided technical assistance to local stakeholders during the 18 month local planning process for the selection of neighborhoods of focus, the analysis of local data, the development of model strategies, metrics, and monitoring strategies, and the development of sustainable funding strategies. View the Criteria for Area of Focus/Neighborhood Selection here.
A core theme in the AHEAD initiative was alignment and leverage of existing funding and assets from a variety of sources, but attention was also given to the identification of new sources of funding and investment to support the implementation and scaling up of efforts. The core objective for AHEAD was to secure commitments to the implementation of a defined convergence strategy in all five sites. PHI and TRF built a funders consortium during the pilot phase to secure support for the implementation.