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Public Health Institute Awarded $5.9 Million to Help Create Healthier Communities in California's Less Populous and Rural Counties

September 27, 2011

Today the Public Health Institute was awarded $5,926,365 to reduce chronic disease and address health disparities in small and rural counties throughout California, an area with a total estimated population of 5,900,000, including a rural population of over 833,000. Work will focus on expanding efforts in tobacco-free living, active living and healthy eating, quality clinical and other preventive services, and healthy and safe physical environments.

PHI and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will serve as lead partners and will work closely with local health departments and community-based organizations to implement the new program.This grant is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS's) Community Transformation Grants to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and control health care spending.

Overall, HHS awarded approximately $103 million in prevention grants to 61 states and communities, reaching more than 120 million Americans. The Community Transformation Grants will support the planning and implementation of state and community projects proven to reduce chronic diseases-such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

"The Affordable Care Act was designed to build a healthier nation not just by ensuring access to health care, but also by committing significant resources to the prevention of illness," said Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, president and CEO of PHI. "With this funding PHI and CDPH will enter into a new and promising partnership to broadly expand our efforts to help communities prevent chronic diseases, which currently undermine the health of hundreds of thousands of Californians and fuel skyrocketing health care costs."

Nationwide, the Community Transformation Grants will focus on three priority areas: tobacco-free living; active living and healthy eating; and evidence-based quality clinical and other preventive services, specifically prevention and control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There are two types of grants for states and communities: implementation and capacity building. PHI was awarded an implementation grant.

35 grantees will implement evidence-based and practice-based programs to achieve changes by running programs designed to help improve health and wellness. For these grants, funding amounts range from $500,000 to $10 million .26 grantees will work to build capacity to implement changes by laying a solid foundation for community prevention efforts to ensure long-term success. Funding amounts range from $147,000 to $500,000 depending on population size and scope of the project.

Funding awards are distributed among state and local government agencies, tribes and territories, and state and local nonprofit organizations. Awards went to grantees in 36 states, including seven tribal organizations, and the Republic of Palau. Over 20 percent of grant funds will be directed to rural and frontier areas. The grants are expected to run for five years, with projects expanding their scope and reach over time as resources permit.

"CDPH is particularly excited about this grant and the opportunity to continue to mobilize resources necessary to transform the environments in which we live, work, play and study," said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health. "In partnership with PHI, local public health departments, and the communities we serve, we can change community environments to support efforts by Californians to eat healthier, be more active and have a smoke-free environment. This work is critical to reducing the leading causes of death and chronic diseases, and is vital to the future health of Californians."

In addition to leadership from Dr. Pittman and CDPH, Marion Standish, JD, currently director of community health at The California Endowment (TCE), will serve as the full-time program director. Standish will help ensure that integration strategies are optimized and that activities are coordinated with other similar efforts underway to prevent chronic disease. TCE is a private, statewide health foundation that believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention.

"There is no better person for the job," said Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of TCE. "The Endowment has granted Marion a one-year leave to launch this new initiative, and we have every confidence it will be a complete success."

To learn more about PHI's prevention and wellness projects, visit www.phi.org. To learn more about CDPH's programs, visit www.cdph.ca.gov. To learn more about TCE, visit www.calendow.org.To learn more about Community Transformation Grants, visit www.cdc.gov/communitytransformation.