Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Issue Areas

Community Development

Many of the social determinants that shape health also are tied to poverty, such as employment, education, housing, and the built environment. The community development and health sectors have worked for decades to address these challenges—but historically, these two sectors have worked in siloes, even when serving the same people and places. Without a greater understanding the shared goals, strategies, and resources, each sector misses the potential to seek additional funding streams, bring in new partners, and make meaningful improvements in the communities they serve. 

Through our work, PHI brings together new partners to ensure successful collaboration between public health and community development practitioners, working to advance community health and health equity together. We develop and support upstream interventions that address social, economic and community conditions—ensuring that community investments are smarter, more strategic, more aligned, and more effective. PHI and our programs also curate relevant best practices, and advance field knowledge of social impact investing, sustainable financing, and other emerging topics.

Our expertise includes: 

  • Network and coalition building: Improve community health and wellness by working with us to forge multi-sectoral partnerships, with a focus on the community development sector.
  • Capacity building: Through trainings and leadership program development, PHI can help you to build the capacity of local leaders, internal teams, cross-sector coalitions, and others to create more impactful community development and public health initiatives.
  • Research and evaluation: Our groundbreaking research has helped to underscore the connections between place and wellness. PHI also offers ongoing and as-needed evaluation to inform program improvement, develop policies, and demonstrate impact. 
  • Ensuring equitable health outcomes: PHI is committed to reducing health inequities by focusing on the needs of vulnerable communities.  


Resources and Tools

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Kevin Barnett

Kevin Barnett is a Senior Investigator at the Public Health Institute.  He has led research and fieldwork in hospital community benefit and he...

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Connie Chan Robison

Connie Chan Robison is executive director of the Center for Collaborative Planning, a training and technical assistance center at PHI. Robison prom...

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Genoveva Islas

Genoveva Islas, MPH, directs Cultiva La Salud, which works to address poor nutrition and physical inactivity in the San Joaquin Valley by creating ...

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Douglas Jutte

Douglas Jutte, MD, MPH is Executive Director of the Build Healthy Places Network, a national organization that catalyzes and supports collaboration...

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Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative
(PHI program 2002-2017)

The Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) is a nationally recognized leader in transforming public health practice to advance hea...

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Build Healthy Places Network

The Build Healthy Places Network catalyzes and supports collaboration across the health and community development sectors, together working to impr...

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Sustaining Technical and Analytic Resources (STAR)

Sustaining Technical and Analytic Resources (STAR) is a project of the Public Health Institute (PHI) supported by the US Agency for International D...

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Here's How We're Making a Difference

Harnessing Data to Drive Change

PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network catalyzes and supports collaboration across the health and community development sectors to improve health in low-income communities. MeasureUp, a microsite of resources and tools curated by the Build Healthy Places Network, helps practitioners make the case for the impact of neighborhood investments on community health and well-being—without having to become an economist.

Explore MeasureUp.


New Tools for Promoting Economic Mobility and Improved Health Outcomes.

In North Carolina, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond brought together financial institutions, public health departments, health systems and hospitals to create "data dashboards" that connect physical and financial health for each of the state's 100 counties.

You might not think of health when you think of the Federal Reserve—but maybe you should. The root causes of poor health and poverty are often the same, and now regional Federal Reserve Banks play a critical role in convening stakeholders, supporting cross-sector solutions that promote economic mobility, and improving health.

The Healthy Communities Initiative (HCI) site, launched n 2017 by PHI's Build Healthy Places Network, lifts up the efforts of these regional banks. Three new resources—a meeting directory, the “conference-in-a-box” tool, and the HCI blog series—spotlight each Federal Reserve Bank and the promising cross-sector initiatives taking place in their region.

See the Healthy Communities Initiative Tool.