The City of Asheville has been selected by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to take part in the new Invest Health initiative. The innovative, national program brings together diverse leaders from mid-sized U.S. cities and aims to improve health in low-income neighborhoods. It will be implemented in 50 cities across the nation.
“Invest Health is a great opportunity for the City of Asheville to engage in the intersection of community development and public health. Through this vibrant and innovative community collaborative, we look forward to working with area partners to address health inequities in Asheville and creating long-term, sustainable solutions for our shared community,” said Heather Dillashaw, City of Asheville community development manager.
Asheville was selected from more than 180 teams from 170 communities that applied to the initiative. Cities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000 were asked to form five-member teams including representatives from the public sector, community development, and an anchor institution, preferably academic or health-related.
UNC Asheville, through its North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness, will be the anchor institution working with a five-member cross-sector team with the City of Asheville, Self-Help Credit Union, Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) and the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville.
“We’re thrilled to collaborate on this initiative to improve the health and well-being of our local community,” said Stacey Millett, executive director of the North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness at UNC Asheville. “We’ll work directly with communities in Asheville to explore solutions and hopefully inform the national conversation about how to best invest to achieve health equity in more communities throughout the U.S.”
The project will span 18 months, beginning with a national kick-off meeting on June 7. The team received a $60,000 grant to support its participation in Invest Health, funded through a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Reinvestment Fund.
“With a long history in community development finance, we are excited to help create a pipeline to channel capital into low-income communities through public and private investments,” said Amanda High, chief of strategic initiatives at Reinvestment Fund. “Our goal is to transform how cities approach tough challenges, share lessons learned and spur creative collaboration.”
A full list of awardees and more information is available at investhealth.org.
About the North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness (NCCHW)
NCCHW works to impact policy, build capacity and ignite community initiatives by working through a web of cross-sector relationships organized around building healthier places throughout the state of North Carolina. As part of the educational experience at UNC Asheville, the center shares learning in and out of the classroom, champions projects, and collects results about how to produce health at the population level. Learn more at ncchw.unca.edu.
About the City of Asheville
The City of Asheville has a long history of community development work in and with low-income communities. Through the Community and Economic Development Department, public and private partnerships build affordable housing, create and sustain economic development opportunities for under-served individuals and neighborhoods, and support public services such as emergency shelter, financial counseling and legal aid for low and no income households. Visit ashevillenc.gov for more information.
About Reinvestment Fund
Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for change in low-income communities. We integrate data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. Using analytical and financial tools, we bring high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to the communities that need better access — creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productive lives. Learn more at reinvestment.com.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.