Community Pilot Projects

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Building on the findings and recommendations in Addressing the Intersection, Prevention Institute coordinates an innovative pilot effort of the Convergence Partnership, a national collaborative of funders whose goal of policy and environmental change will help reinvent communities of healthy people living in healthy places. Prevention Institute provides training and technical assistance to six community partnerships across the country to implement policy and environmental changes that support safe and healthy neighborhoods.

These community teams consist of representatives from multiple sectors and disciplines, including healthy eating and active living advocates, groups focused on preventing violence, public health departments, local government, law enforcement, and youth. As they develop diverse and non-traditional partnerships, these community teams are setting a new standard for collaboration. Learn more about each group's effort:

Chula Vista, CA:This pilot project integrated safety strategies, such as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), into efforts to improve the public's perception of safety in the west-side community of Chula Vista while simultaneously promoting physical activity, particularly in neighborhood parks and at trolley stations. Based on a needs assessment conducted by community members and youth, the Western Chula Vista Preventing Violence-Healthy Eating and Active Living Report (PV-HEAL Report) provided recommendations for improvements to various city government departments. The report included photos vividly demonstrating the need for action to address safety. This project inspired the Redevelopment Agency to support the Chula Vista Utility Box Program, which engaged youth in beautifying neglected and vandalized utility boxes. The boxes were painted by youth with art that is culturally reflective of their community. The Metropolitan Transit System plans to implement some of the report recommendations into the rebuilding of the "Blue Line" transit system by 2014. Lastly, the Public Works Department adopted report suggestions for construction guidelines for all new parks. Recommendations included increased lighting, culturally appropriate designs, trimming bushes to provide more openness in public spaces, and reducing vandalism and graffiti.

Community team:

  • Cambios con Fe
  • Chula Vista Police Department
  • Chula Vista residents and youth
  • Community Health Improvement Partners
  • Environmental Health Coalition
  • Health & Human Services Agency - South Region
  • Institute for Public Strategies, Inc.
  • Network for a Healthy California
  • Walk San Diego
  • Youth

In early 2010, a team of community advocates in western Chula Vista began work as part of a pilot program to Prevent Violence and Promote Healthy Eating and Active Living (PV-HEAL). The community partnership focused on efforts to influence infrastructure and landscaping improvements to improve the health and safety for all residents in western Chula Vista. Their PV-HEAL project inspired the Chula Vista Utility Box Program, which engaged youth in beautifying previously neglected and vandalized utility boxes with art that is culturally reflective of the community. Boxes beautified in early 2011 have remained unaffected by graffiti and tagging. Also, the areas where the project was focused have seen a reduction in violent activity. This is just one example of increased community capacity and engagement in Western Chula Vista to create safe public spaces for physical activity.

Denver, CO:This project developed a healthy local food system that also supported safety in the underserved Westwood community. The establishment of a large-scale, organic urban farm, weekly farmers' market, and Urban Farm Training Program provided job skills training and placement for residents (including promotoras) and youth, with the intention of addressing underlying inequities that contributed to violence. The urban farm provided an opportunity to bolster economic development and provide income to those living in the neighborhood. So that all Westwood youth would benefit from the Urban Farm, the project team worked with the juvenile justice system and the local school where the urban farm resides to refer youth to gardening, urban agriculture, and healthy food and activity programs. As youth improved their skills by working and volunteering on the Urban Farm, the fruits and vegetables that they harvested supported neighborhood healthy food access. Additionally, the project supported residents in creating backyard gardens, which grew from 6 to 80 gardens during the project period. Other efforts involved beautifying the neighborhood with community murals and leveraging pilot efforts to bring in additional resources, including a fruit orchard that was planted next to the urban farm.

Community team:

  • City Council District 3
  • Denver Public Health
  • Gang Rescue and Support Project (GRASP)
  • LiveWell Westwood
  • Metro Denver Partners
  • Revision International
  • Sisters of Color United for Education
  • Youth

Detroit, MI:The Helping Ourselves Overcome Disparities Project (Osborn HOOD) aimed to create safe passages to community resources in the Detroit Osborn community. Efforts included launching the Osborn Area Youth Leadership Institute, which provides youth leadership and advocacy training. Additionally, advocacy efforts lead to the development of the Osborn Safe Routes Initiative to address violence concerns. Osborn HOOD also worked towards the development of a community bus system that, once in place, will increase residents' access to healthy foods and physical activity by providing transportation to neighborhood assets, including local businesses, organizations, and places such as community hubs, recreation centers, grocery stores, and parks. Obtaining a 20-passenger bus was one step towards that important goal.

Community team:

  • Neighborhood Service Organization - Youth Initiatives Project
  • Detroit Department of Health & Wellness Promotion
  • Matrix Human Services
  • City Connect Detroit
  • Greenbrier Community Council
  • Osborn Neighborhood Alliance
  • Skillman Foundation
  • University of Michigan
  • Central Detroit Christian Community
  • Detroit Generation Fit Kids
  • Black Family Development, Inc
  • National Development Institute
  • Youth

Louisville, KY:The goal of this project was to limit alcohol and tobacco promotion signage, increase adequate lighting, and decrease graffiti to positively influence perceptions of safety and encourage more residents to be active in the neighborhood. Utilizing digital storytelling and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), youth and adult residents documented environmental determinants that impacted safety and physical activity and presented these findings to key stakeholders. Some recommendations have been included in the Shawnee neighborhood sustainability plan. The neighborhood is experiencing decreases in blight, removal of tobacco and alcohol advertisements from storefronts by neighborhood retailers, and the city has facilitated major street repair. Furthermore, the neighborhood assessment resulted in the recognition that more factors need to be addressed as part of this work. As a result, Communities United for Health, a coalition made up of 13 diverse partners, was formed to create a "healthy zone," using the Shawnee neighborhood as a pilot. Communities United for Health has one set agenda: to create a safe and healthy community. As part of the "Healthy Zone" initiative in Louisville, the partners are working closely with youth and local businesses to encourage neighborhood residents to walk to their local grocery stores and access spaces for recreation and activity.

Community team:

  • Center for Health Equity
  • Healthy Kids Healthy Communities
  • Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness
  • Louisville Metro Office of Youth Development
  • Peace Education Program
  • Shawnee Neighborhood Association
  • Shawnee Weed & Seed Program
  • Youth

Oakland, CA:The West Oakland Health and Safety Collaborative (WOHSC) tapped into the wisdom, passion, and expertise of community members, including youth, to ignite positive changes in the Hoover Historic District of West Oakland. The WOHSC path sought to uproot resignation and seed possibility through community engagement and building understanding and skills to address the empirical link between violence and chronic disease, while offering healthy eating and active living solutions that prevent violence and the onset of disease. Youth engaged in a photovoice project that used photos as a way to identify and highlight community concerns. Students worked with an Oakland organization to advocate for changes at the local bus stop, but efforts proved unsuccessful. However, the students took action to improve the neighborhood and built benches that are now being used by elderly residents. Furthermore, residents signed commitment cards to participate in community walks as a way of showing community presence and that violence is not a healthy option, which led to a series of walks at the local high school. WOHSC also worked to strengthen Safe Routes to School efforts at the local elementary school, resulting in collaboration with the city to establish a safe drop-off and pick-up plan.

Community team:

  • Alameda County Public Health Department
  • Attitudinal Healing Connection
  • City of Oakland
  • Hoover Elementary
  • One Love
  • People's Grocery
  • Residents and youth
  • West Oakland Health and Safety Collaborative
  • YMCA East Bay

Philadelphia, PA:This project focused on revitalizing Hunting Park, an 87-acre park that lies at the crossroads of several neighborhoods in North Philadelphia, by creating activities around healthy food access as a way to actively engage a variety of age groups in park stewardship and strengthen community bonds. To ensure that changes were long-lasting, the entire project was community-driven and community-managed. The Youth Environmental Stewardship program fostered a sense of ownership of the park among youth-with a special focus on violence prevention and youth leadership-and provided youth job training and opportunities that focused on improving the park. The new presence of community garden and farmers' market provides increased access to healthy, affordable fruits and vegetables for surrounding neighborhoods while simultaneously improving the physical appearance of the park, increasing community use of the space, and influencing the perception of safety in and around the park. Another result of project efforts is a new permitting system that waives fees for farmers' market on park property, creating an incentive for new markets to be established.

Community team:

  • Fairmount Park Conservancy
  • The Food Trust
  • Greater Philadelphia Urban
  • Hunting Park United
  • MEE Productions
  • Nu Sigma Youth Services
  • Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (Philadelphia Green)
  • Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network (PAAN)
  • Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Philadelphia Urban Food & Fitness Alliance (PUFFA)
  • United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania
  • Youth

 


The Convergence Partnership is a collaborative of funders in the United States whose goal of policy and environmental change will help reinvent communities of healthy people living in healthy places. The Partnership aims to strengthen and accelerate multi-field, equity-focused efforts among practitioners, policymakers, funders, and advocates to create environments that support healthy eating and active living. The steering committee includes The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, Nemours Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The Kresge Foundation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention serves as a critical technical advisor. PolicyLink, a national research and action Institute devoted to advancing economic and social equity, acts as program directors for the partnership.