In 2008, the Greater Rochester Health Foundation launched a program called the Neighborhood Health Status Improvement grants through which it is supporting four community groups as they engage in asset-based, grassroots efforts to improve the health status of residents in their communities. Partnering with the Asset-Based Community Development Institute, the foundation is providing both grants and ABCD technical support to groups who are addressing the health consequences associated with poverty by focusing on the broad social and economic contexts of the communities in which they are working.
The Greater Rochester Health Foundation works to improve the health status of the residents of the Greater Rochester community, including people whose unique health care needs have not been met because of race, ethnicity or income. With the Neighborhood Health Status Improvement grants, the foundation has embraced the view that in order to improve health status, communities must work together to improve the economic and environmental conditions that describe their domain, and that an asset-based approach to engaging residents offers the most promising results in the long run. The grants program is expected to last five years or more and to provide support to the same four organizations as they move through assessment, planning and implementation phases of their work. At the end of the first year, the grantees had completed comprehensive neighborhood assessments, including mapping the assets present in their communities, and engaged community residents interested in joining forces to improve local health outcomes. The four grantees are:
- HOPE (Healthy Outcomes through Participation, Education and Empowerment), a project of Ibero-American Development Corporation, located in Rochester.
- COACH (Coaching, Organizing, Accessing Community Health), a project of the Charles Settlement House, located in Rochester.
- Our Town Rocks (focusing on the rural communities of Barrington, Starkey and Dundee), a project of S2AY Rural Health Network, located in Corning.
- PALS (Puentes a la Salud, or Bridges to Wellness), a project of the Anthony Jordan Health Center, located in Rochester.
Each of the projects is focusing its efforts on a variety of local issues, including housing, the economy and jobs, the environment, safety and opportunities for healthy social interaction. During the second year, grantees worked with community residents to develop multiyear plans for addressing the most important social determinants of health, as defined by the community. As grantees moves into the third year, they will be working with residents to implement those plans.
The Greater Rochester Health Foundation has taken an important step with its grantee partners by trusting that they can successfully mobilize local residents toward neighborhood health objectives and that the results will reflect the goals the foundation has for the entire Rochester community.