Community Team from Paterson to join innovative, national program to improve health in low-income neighborhoods
Paterson, NJ, May 17, 2016—A Community Team from the city of Paterson has been selected by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to take part in the new Invest Health initiative. Invest Health is aimed at transforming how leaders from mid-size American cities work together to help low-income communities thrive, with specific attention to community features that drive health such as access to safe and affordable housing, places to play and exercise, and quality jobs.
The Paterson Invest Health Team led by the United Way of Passaic County 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. Paterson’s team comprises representatives from the United Way of Passaic County who authored the grant along with Rutgers University, Paterson Housing Authority, Paterson Habitat for Humanity and St. Paul’s CDC and will explore goals and opportunities that will make the community safer for children, increase healthy food options in a neighborhood, and make the city more walkable in Paterson’s 4th Ward.
“United Way of Passaic County is honored to lead this project for Paterson as we work together to explore new ways to improve the drivers of community health,” said Yvonne Zuidema, MSW President & CEO, United Way of Passaic County “We are excited to build off of work that we and the team members have already started in building healthy communities.”
Mid-size American cities face some of the nation’s deepest challenges with entrenched poverty, poor health and a lack of investment. But they also offer fertile ground for strategies that improve health and have the potential to boost local economies. The program has the potential to fundamentally transform the way the City of Paterson improves opportunities to live healthy lives by addressing the drivers of health including jobs, housing, education, community safety and environmental conditions.
“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.”
Over the next 18 months, Invest Health teams will take part in a vibrant learning community, have access to highly skilled faculty advisors and coaches who will guide their efforts toward improved health, and receive a $60,000 grant. The Paterson Invest Health Team will also engage a broader group of local stakeholders to encourage local knowledge sharing. 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,” said Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH, MBA, RWJF Vice President, Program. “Invest Health aims to align their work and help neighborhoods thrive by intentionally incorporating health into community development.”
The Paterson Invest Health Team’s projects will explore a broad range of ideas from crime prevention to food access. Examples of potential project to be explored include crime prevention through design; decreased absenteeism among school children; the development of community gardens; the development of new parks; increased access to produce at local corner stores. Project teams will travel to Philadelphia for a kick-off meeting on June 7th and will meet regularly to share lessons learned throughout the 18-month project. A full list of awardees and more information is available at www.investhealth.org.
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.
About United Way of Passaic County
The United Way of Passaic County works to address community needs in the areas of Health, Income and Education. It is the mission of UWPC to 'to improve the lives of people in Passaic County by mobilizing the caring power of our community.' Learn more at www.unitedwaypassaic.org