Providence named one of 50 Invest Health Cities

Reinvestment Fund and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Name Providence, RI One of 50 Invest Health Cities 

Providence, RI to join innovative, national program to improve health in low-income neighborhoods

Providence, RI, May 17, 2016—The City of Providence 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. 

Providence 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. The Providence team comprises representatives from the City of Providence’s Healthy Communities Office, ONE Neighborhood Builders, Brown University’s School of Public Health, Rhode Island Department of Health, and Lifespan Community Health Institute and will develop and implement strategies to significantly and permanently improve the active transit environment in Providence's neighborhoods. 

“We are excited to be selected to participate in the Invest Health program,” said Jorge Elorza, Mayor of Providence. “I am committed to making Providence the fittest city in America and this opportunity will allow us to better support active transportation and improve the quality of life in Providence.”

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 Providence 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. Providence 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.”

Providence’s projects will explore a broad range of ideas to improve walkability and bikeability in Providence neighborhoods. Examples include analysis of pedestrian and bicycle transit patterns; establishment of uniform design standards for active transportation routes; and development of policies and procedures to prioritize and ensure improvement and maintenance of transit corridors.  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   

(release from City of Providence) 

The CW