Collaborating to build healthier communities 

What matters most when it comes to producing good health? Research shows that socioeconomic and environmental factors account for about half of what determines our health outcomes. These factors include not only income and education, but the characteristics of the neighborhoods in which we live—such as access to quality housing, grocery stores that carry fresh produce, safe places to exercise, and good schools and jobs.
Wilder Research is a partner in the Minnesota Healthy Communities initiative, part of a broader partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Federal Reserve Banks to promote collaboration between community development and health practitioners to improve the health of our nation’s communities.
On November 5, 2014, Wilder Research Executive Director Paul Mattessich presented at a National Press Club event on cross-sector collaboration. Archived video and presentation slides from the event are available here.
The November 2014 issue of Health Affairs features an article from Wilder Research and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis that discusses collaboration between health and community development sectors to improve community health: Cross-Sector Collaboration to Improve Community Health: A View of the Current Landscape.

Report Outlines factors for successful cross-sector partnerships

A report from Wilder Research and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis answers the following questions:
  • What collaborative activity is occurring between the health and community development sectors in the United States?
  • What factors underlie successful cross-sector initiatives to improve community health?
  • What obstacles prevent collaboration between health and community development organizations from occurring?
  • What actions can help optimally support additional collaboration between health and community development organizations that work to improve community health?

The report draws from a nationwide survey and in-depth key informant interviews with leaders working in community development as well as those working in public health. ​The report was prepared for the reconvening of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Build a Healthier America.

Minnesota Healthy Communities Conference 2013: Building on What Works

A November 1, 2013 conference explored ways to build a healthier Minnesota by promoting the integration of health-related programs and community development to address social determinants of health. The conference, part of an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, highlighted current successful cross-sector efforts throughout the state, and also gave a national perspective.
Nineteen groups working on cross-sector collaboration were showcased during a poster session:

Healthy Communities Conference 2012

On November 1, 2012, leaders from community development and health organizations across the state came together to find ways to converge their efforts to build healthier communities. Ideas that emerged included developing a common framework and language, sharing board members, and sharing data.

Presentations from the conference:

Health and Human Services Sector Education for Community Development Professionals.
Jim Hart, Adjunct Professor, University of Minnesota School of Public Health; David Kindig, Professor Emeritus and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; Gretchen Musicant, Commissioner, Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support.

Community Development Sector Education for Health and Human Service Professionals. Andriana Abariotes, Executive Director, Twin Cities LISC; Allison Coleman, CEO, Capital Link; Stacey Millett, Senior Program Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation.

Related Reading

Braunstein, S., & Lavizzo-Mourey, R. (2011). How the health and community development sectors are combining forces to improve health and well-being. Health Affairs, 30(11), 2042–2051.
Edmonson, J., & Zimpher, N. L. (2012, Summer). The new civic infrastructure: The 'how to' of collective impact and getting a better social return on investment. Community Investments, 24(2), 10-13.
Fleming, H. K., & Wysen, K. (2010/2011, Winter). Making up for lost time: Forging new connections between health and community development. Community Investments, 22(3), 11-18.
Lavizzo-Mourey, R. (2012). Why health, poverty and community development are inseparable. In Investing in what works for America's communities: Essays on people, place, and purpose (pp. 215-225). Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and Low Income Investment Fund.
Paloma, M. (2012, Spring). The intersection of health philanthropy and housing. Shelterforce.
Rausch, E. (2012, Spring). CDFIs as catalysts for improving social outcomes. Community Investments, 24(1),18-21.

 In the Media




Opening remarks from Paul Mattessich, Executive Director of Wilder Research, and Narayana Kocherlakota, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, at the recent Minnesota Healthy Communities Conference.



Keynote presentation from Elaine Arkin, Manager of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America.


 Short Takes


Andriana Abariotes, Executive Director, Twin Cities LISC, and Kathy Gaalswyk, President and CEO, Initiative Foundation, describe collaborative efforts in which leaders in community development and public health are successfully working together.

More short takes