Communities4Health Blog

Welcome to the Communities4Health Blog! The blog features posts on topics related to the work of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge and interviews with members of the Challenge community. 

Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge recap: Adapting, building from within, and just getting started

By Arianne Noorestani and Philip Bors, September 29, 2022

The Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge grant initiative officially ends on Sept. 30, 2022. Read a full recap on what 10 cities and 10 counties across the nation accomplished through their incredible health equity work in our final blog post. 

The power of community engagement in systems change work

By Arianne Noorestani, September 15, 2022

Genuine engagement with community is a pivotal way to support building healthy futures. Learn more about some of the unique approaches HCCC project teams have taken to better engage with their local communities.

Community leaders are shaping local policy through food policy councils 

By Arianne Noorestani, August 25, 2022

Learn more about how HCCC project teams are using food policy councils as a strategy to advocate for food justice and equity in their local communities. 

Young leaders address local health inequities

By Arianne Noorestani, August 11, 2022

Young people are an untapped reservoir for changemaking. Their innovative ideas can drive social changes and generate positive outcomes. Read to learn about how HCCC teams in Tompkins County, NY and Deerfield Beach, FL are encouraging emerging leaders to address local health inequities.

Harnessing the power of storytelling, Part 2

By Arianne Noorestani, July 28, 2022

Building off last week's blog post, let's dive deeper into some free and practical tools for digital/virtual storytelling. 

Harnessing the power of storytelling, Part 1

By Arianne Noorestani, July 21, 2022

Storytelling can bring people together by reshaping how we see systems and building trust. Learn more about how you can harness the power of storytelling in the latest. 

Policy, peer connections and public health: A June events recap

By Arianne Noorestani, June 30, 2022

From learning about innovation/partnership strategies during APHA’s Policy Action Institute to developing their own policy recommendations, HCCC grantees had two action-packed days of learning during their recent visit to DC! Read about some of the key takeaways.

We need to talk about gender equity

By Brittany Perrotte, June 16, 2022

“We cannot improve food security if we do not talk about gender equity." Read more about the connection between reproductive justice and health equity in this piece written by HCCC project director, Brittany Perrotte.

What can communities do to come together for mental health?

By Arianne Noorestani, May 26, 2022

We are continuing our celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month! Hear from Sue Pechilio Polis from National League of Cities on the pivotal role community plays in meeting mental health needs.

Understanding the mental health journey

By Arianne Noorestani, May 12, 2022

This May, as we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month and its theme, “Together For Mental Health,” know that no one deserves to feel alone in their mental health journey. While everyone’s mental health journey is different, everyone’s mental health matters.

Cultivating community resilience through health equity

By Arianne Noorestani, April 28, 2022

Learn more about how Ami McReynolds, chief equity and programs officer at Feeding America, Sara Bader, senior manager at HealthBegins, and Sadena Thevarajah, managing director at HealthBegins, define community resilience and how equitable access to food and health services is key to achieving it. 

Celebrating community collaboration and resilience during National Public Health Week

By Arianne Noorestani, April 21, 2022

Read a recap on what HCCC grantees had to say about shifting power and building resilience in their communities during National Public Health Week.

The key to improving access to care: Setting health priorities in your community

By Arianne Noorestani, March 10, 2022

Grantees from Greenbrier County, West Virginia, Cleveland, Ohio and Forsyth County, Georgia have identified core health priorities in their communities to improve access to care. Learn more about their approaches. 

The Doyle community brings humanity into health care

By Arianne Noorestani, February 14, 2022

The Kerrville project team is rural community is that is working to address chronic disease disparities through humility and with humanity. Read more in this interview with Reverend Allen Noah. 

Improving maternal and child health across the lifespan

By Arianne Noorestani, January 27, 2022

Healthy mothers mean a healthy next generation. Learn more about how the Cambria County project team is working to improve maternal and child health in this interview with 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health's project manager, Leanna Bird.

Thriving together calls for wellness across the lifespan

By Arianne Noorestani, January 13, 2022

Thriving together means that all individuals, at all ages, have a chance to engage and prosper in their communities. Read more on how your community can elevate health and wellness throughout the lifespan. 

2021’s opportunity to rebuild to public health

By Arianne Noorestani, December 23, 2021 

2020 showed the need to change the public health system. HCCC communities are doing exactly that. Take a look back on how the community-led solutions of the Challenge encouraged systems change and advanced equity this past year. 

ARPA funding is a step toward equity: An interview with Lamond Daniels

By Arianne Noorestani, December 9, 2021

Funding from the American Rescue Act Plan provides an opportunity to help your community thrive. Learn more about how ARPA dollars can be leveraged to address public health concerns in this interview with Chief of Community Services for the city of Norwalk, CT and HCCC advisory council member, Lamond Daniels.

Social connection during a time of isolation

By Arianne Noorestani, November 12, 2021

Rates of social isolation have soared across the nation. That is why HCCC grantees are advancing social well-being by shifting systems within their communities to encourage dignity and inclusion. 

Unlocking systems-level thinking in Cincinnati

By Arianne Noorestani, October 6, 2021

For Cincinnati, Ohio’s Green Umbrella, systems-level work is rooted in sustainable and engaging partnerships. Learn more about the Cincinnati project team's strategies in sustaining partnerships in this blog.

Planting and nourishing the seeds for change: HCCC teams are excelling at community engagement and spurring multisector partnership gains

By Brittany Perrotte, September 23, 2021
The newest HCCC Highlights Report (PDF) is now available! Read this blog post written by project director for the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, Brittany Perrotte, for a summary of key takeaways from the report. Read the full report to learn more about how the HCCC communities are improving access to food and health services.

Setting the stage for authentic community engagement in Paterson

By Arianne Noorestani, August 25, 2021

Placing final decision-making power in the hands of community members can result in lasting improvements in public health. Learn how the Paterson, New Jersey team engaged with its community and more. 

By Arianne Noorestani, August 11, 2021

Dive deeper into the topic of fair compensation by learning more about what HCCC communities are doing to compensate their community members. 

Maximizing the impact of your partnerships: An interview with Rishi Manchanda

By Arianne Noorestani, July 22, 2021

Developing and strengthening partnerships is a key component of sustainability. Read HCCC advisory council member and CEO of HealthBegins Rishi Manchanda’s recommendations on how to start building long-lasting partnerships for community-led initiatives.

Sustaining your Challenge work to promote health and well-being

By Arianne Noorestani, July 8, 2021

Thinking about sustainability for community-led initiatives should not be saved until the end of a grant funding period. Read this blog post to learn more about how to start the planning process for your program. 

Reimaging Peer Connections: An Interview with the Challenge Team 

By Arianne Noorestani, June 24, 2021

Read more about what Challenge team members had to say about HCCC communities and their involvement with the first year of the two year grant initiative.

Communities rising to the challenge: Coming together, reflecting on an uncertain year

By Phil Bors from Healthy Places by Design and Arianne Noorestani, June 16, 2021

The Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge is encouraging community change in important ways! This latest post takes a look back at some of the milestones made by the 20 Challenge communities in the first year of this two year grant initiative.

Revolutionizing mental health care in Forsyth County

By Arianne Noorestani, May 27, 2021

HCCC project leader Brandon Kenney and his team have formed a collaborative, data-informed approach to address mental health needs in Forsyth County, Georgia. Read about how his project is using data to improve care coordination in their local community. 

Managing mental health during COVID-19

By Arianne Noorestani, May 13, 2021

Addressing mental health needs is paramount to COVID-19 response. Read more about how HCCC communities are addressing conditions contributing to declining mental health in this blog piece.

Optimism engineers are building bridges to advance equity

By Arianne Noorestani, April 22, 2021

HCCC project teams had the opportunity to showcase their work during National Public Health Week and highlight how they are building bridges to curate safer and healthier communities. 

Strengthening community health in Perry County, Kentucky

By Arianne Noorestani, April 7, 2021

Perry County project team leader, Frances Hardin-Fanning, dives in how her project is building local partnerships that strengthen community.

Resident leaders are blooming in the “Flower City”

By Arianne Noorestani, March 25, 2021
Don't miss out on the opportunity to learn more about how project team leader Mike Bulger and the rest of his Rochester team are engaging resident leaders to advance health equity in their city. 

Humanizing the virtual work landscape

By Arianne Noorestani, March 11, 2021

Got Zoom fatigue? Make the online work world easier to bear with these tips and lessons learned. 

Getting the most out of your social media

by Arianne Noorestani, Jan. 28, 2021
In this blog post, Michele Late, APHA’s deputy director of communications, delves into how you can build a better social media presence and effectively manage your online networks. 

Social media’s health equity potential proving powerful during the pandemic

by Arianne Noorestani, Jan. 14, 2021
Dive into how the pandemic has changed the ways we "internet" and the new opportunities present on social media for both HCCC and other public health initiatives. 

Taking a look back on 2020

by Arianne Noorestani, Dec. 10, 2020

2020 has been quite a year. Challenge project teams faced circumstances no one expected or imagined. With all that has occurred, it’s easy to lose focus on the incredible achievements of the Challenge community. This blog posts takes a look back on the year and some of what HCCC grantees have accomplished.

A Conversation on Public Health Advocacy with Sarah de Guia

by Arianne Noorestani, Dec. 1, 2020
Check out the most recent blog to hear more about what Sarah de Guia from Change Lab Solutions had to say about creating a common agenda for advocacy.

The importance of post-election advocacy in public health

by Arianne Noorestani, Nov. 13, 2020
Learn more about how the Challenge project teams are incorporating advocacy into their work and how anyone can push for change for various public health priorities.

A discussion on domestic violence with Bridgette Stumpf

by Arianne Noorestani, Oct. 22, 2020
Bridgette Stumpf, co-founder and executive director of the Network for Victim Recovery of DC, discusses her perspective on how domestic violence intersects with access to food and health services and how Challenge communities can partner with local domestic violence organizations.

Domestic violence in the age of COVID-19

by Brittany Perrotte, Oct. 8, 2020

Read up on the intersection of food security and health care with domestic violence and how the power of collaboration can help people in our community who are experiencing domestic violence. 

Rural health preparedness and response: A Q&A with Alan Morgan

by Arianne Noorestani, Sept. 24, 2020

Join us as we conclude our discussion on preparedness by connecting with advisory council member Alan Morgan of the National Rural Health Association. In this blog post, Morgan discusses pandemic and disaster preparedness and response in rural health systems. 

What can we learn from the nation's healthiest communities?

by Arianne Noorestani, Sept. 22, 2020

Learn more about how the 2020 Healthiest Communities Rankings by U.S. News and World Report, with support from the Aenta Foundation, provide essential data to support community organizations, leaders and residents pushing for better health. 

Lessons from COVID: Preparing food systems for future emergencies

by Arianne Noorestani and Brittany Perrotte, Sept. 10, 2020

Part one of our two-part blog series, this piece explores how our food system can be restructured to remain resilient in it's response to future emergencies. 

A health equity Q&A with Lamond Daniels

by Arianne Noorestani, Aug. 27, 2020

Join us as we conclude our discussion on health equity by connecting with Challenge Advisory Council member Lamond Daniels. In this blog post, Daniels reflects on the lessons learned from his work with the first cohort of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge and his new role as the Chief of Community Services for the City of Norwalk, Connecticut.

Redefining community engagement for health equity

by Arianne Noorestani, Aug. 13, 2020

Continuing the conversation on health equity, this blog post explores what authentic community engagement looks like and how the Challenge will work to engage community members in crafting solutions to food and health care access. 

A window of opportunity emerges in the midst of COVID-19

by Arianne Noorestani, Aug. 3, 2020

This first blog post marks the start of the HCCC's health equity series. It focuses on the long-standing health inequities that have been brought to light by COVID-19, and how the Challenge project teams will work to change them.