Health Care

Youngstown Team Selected for ‘Invest Health’ Program

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Five government and nonprofit organizations representing the city make up one of 50 teams selected to take part in Invest Health, an initiative funded by the Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and share $3 million in grants.

The initiative seeks to transform how leaders in mid-size cities work together to assist low-income communities in regards to health, safe and affordable housing, recreation and quality jobs.

Teams formed by the cities of Akron and Canton also were among those selected. Nationwide, 180 teams from 170 communities applied for the program. Each team will receive $60,000.

The Youngstown team includes representatives from the Youngstown City Health District, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., Youngstown State University Regional Economic Development Initiative, Mercy Health Foundation – Mahoning Valley and Eastgate Regional Council of Governments. Erin Bishop, city health commissioner, says the team “is committed to reducing high rates of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes due to inactive lifestyles and long-term developmental effects resulting from exposure to lead in power quality housing and property conditions.”

Project teams will travel to Philadelphia for a kick-off meeting June 7 and will meet regularly to share lessons learned throughout the 18-month project. Invest Health teams will have access to faculty advisers and coaches who will guide their efforts. Learning from the program will be synthesized and disseminated through the project website.

“Public officials, community developers, and many others have been working in low-income neighborhoods for years, but they haven’t always worked together,” says Donald Schwarz, vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Invest Health aims to align their work and help neighborhoods thrive by intentionally incorporating health into community development.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., is the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health. It was established 40 years ago by the founder of Johnson & Johnson.

The Reinvestment Fund, based in Philadelphia, describes its mission as building wealth and opportunity for “low-wealth people and places through the promotion of socially and environmentally responsible development.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.