For the past two decades, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has funded communities throughout the United States via a competitive process to promote healthy lifestyles and decrease morbidity and mortality due to costly chronic diseases. The aim of each funding initiative was to stimulate communities’ adoption of policies, systems, and environments (PSE) that would make communities healthier and promote individuals’ healthy choices. From 2014 to 2017, CDC provided five national organizations a total of $30 million to work with local communities and build their capacity for implementing sustainable changes that support healthy communities and lifestyles. The overall goal of CDC’s funding was to implement, evaluate, and disseminate evidence- and practice-based community health activities that promote health equity and eventually led to a 5% reduction in the rate of death and disability due to tobacco use, a 3% reduction in the prevalence of obesity, and a 3% reduction in the rates of death and disability due to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Through a competitive process, CDC’s Division of Community Health selected three national organizations to work with their existing regional or local affiliates, chapters, or members: American Heart Association (AHA), American Planning Association (APA), and National WIC Association (NWA). These national organizations provided 97 funding awards to 94 communities in two cohorts. The funding supported communities’ work toward PSE changes that would increase access to smoke-free environments, healthier foods and beverages, and physical activity opportunities, as well as overall chronic disease prevention, risk reduction, and management initiatives. In addition to funding these three organizations, CDC funded two other national organizations to provide training, communication support, and technical assistance to the project: the Directors of Health Promotion and Education (DHPE) and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE).
The expectation was that the national organizations could leverage their existing networks, resources, and expertise to reach more communities especially smaller communities unlikely to compete successfully for direct federal awards to yield a positive return on the federal investment. National organizations would further the project’s reach by sharing lessons and expertise gained from this project with affiliates, chapters, and members in non-funded communities. To ensure this project functioned as a single project, the five national organizations formed a national coalition to share decision-making, coordinate resources, and communicate lesson learned with each other. They named the project Partnering4Health.