1889 Foundation today announced it has been selected to receive a grant as part of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, a program funded by the Aetna Foundation, together with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Association of Counties (NACo), supporting communities that are changing the way they work together across sectors to reduce disparities in chronic disease outcomes.

“Access to health care and healthy food, as well as other social determinants of health, can significantly impact rates of chronic disease and other health outcomes, with average life spans varying by up to 20-30 years in communities that are just a few miles apart,” said Eileen Howard Boone, President of the Aetna Foundation. “We are proud to partner with APHA and NACo to support the work of 1889 Foundation to drive change and address these social determinants of health – work that is now more important than ever, given the COVID-19 pandemic.”

1889 Foundation, in partnership with the 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health (CPH), is leading one of the 20 teams chosen to participate in the Challenge. 1889 Foundation will  receive $100,000 to support the work of their key funding initiative, the new Community Care HUB in Cambria County. In addition to the funding, the Foundation, CPH  and their partners will participate in one-on-one technical assistance provided by [APHA/NACo] and a supportive peer-learning network led by Healthy Places by Design over the course of the next two years.

“We are so grateful to have been selected as one of the 20 recipients of this national grant program,” said Susan Mann, president of 1889 Foundation. “In addition to the funding, the grant also includes technical assistance that will allow us to learn from other communities and look at best practices as we continue to develop and expand the HUB.”

The project team includes:

  • CPH
  • United Way of the Laurel Highlands
  • Community Action Partnership
  • Beginnings, Inc.
  • Alleghenies United Cerebral Palsy
  • Greater Johnstown School District and Communities in Schools

The 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health (CPH), funded by 1889 Foundation in partnership with the Jefferson College of Population Health, is located in Cambria County, Pennsylvania. The Center identified diabetes and maternal/child health as priority areas after extensive research into the region’s health data. Utilizing the Community Health Needs Assessment, County Health Rankings, PHC4, BRFSS, and Pennsylvania Department of Health (DoH) data, the Center determined that Cambria County has a 14.5% prevalence of diabetes, and had the 12th highest percent of diabetes-related hospitalizations in PA (2018). According to the PA DoH, Johnstown also had the highest percent of low birth weight (LBW) births at 15.1%, compared to 8.3% total LBW births across the state.

To address these issues, the Center is implementing the Community Care HUB, a Pathways Community HUB model, to enhance community-based care coordination and SDOH intervention efforts that impact the health outcomes of residents. A HUB is an organized, outcome-focused, pay-for- performance network of community-based organizations (CBOs) that hire and train community health workers (CHWs) to reach out to those at greatest risk, identify their risk factors and assure that they connect to medical, social, and behavioral health services, as well as foods that support healthy eating. Given the data above, the initial priority population includes pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes and pregnant women receiving Medical Assistance who are living in Cambria County.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving health equity,” APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD explained. “Successful, lasting change comes from cross-sector partnerships and engaging affected individuals and communities, which is why this challenge is so powerful. Together, communities in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge will be able to achieve enduring transformations to public health.”

NACo President Mary Ann Borgeson added, “Counties play an essential role in protecting, promoting and improving health in our communities across the country. The Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge recognizes the positive impact of cross-sector partnerships and offers opportunities for counties to develop innovative approaches to meet residents’ health needs.”

The Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge will award a total of $2 million to teams of organizations that will work together to change the food access and health care systems in their communities and engage community residents as leaders in their work.

An expert review panel selected the team following a rigorous review process which looked at a variety of factors including: level of innovation of their proposed approaches, intended impacts on systems and policy change and alignment of diverse partners around common priorities.

The Aetna Foundation, which first launched the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge in partnership with APHA and NACo in 2016, is an independent, charitable and philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health.