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New Funding From The California Endowment To Support Health Impact Assessments, Help Build Healthier Communities

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WASHINGTON— The Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, today announced that The California Endowment will support one Health Impact Assessment (HIA) program grant and one HIA demonstration project grant in California under the current call for proposals.

An HIA is a study that helps policy makers identify the likely health impacts of a decision in another field, such as building a major roadway, planning a city’s growth or developing agricultural policy. HIAs can assist decision makers in identifying unintended risks, reduce unnecessary costs, find practical solutions and leverage opportunities to improve the wellness of the community.

“The California Endowment has been a leader in using HIA to ensure that the human impact is factored into policy decisions,” said Aaron Wernham, MD, director of the Health Impact Project. “The Health Impact Project is thrilled to be collaborating with The Endowment again, this time to develop a self-supporting HIA program in California, host the Second National HIA meeting, and support organizations new to the field.”

The California Endowment is committed to expanding access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and advancing the notion that health happens through many pathways, not just in hospitals and at the doctor’s office.  

“At The California Endowment, we believe overall health is influenced by a number of outside factors, including where a person lives, their economic status, and their access to healthy choices,” said Dr. Beatriz Solis, Director of Healthy Communities Strategies – South Region, at The California Endowment.  “Health impact assessments provide a way to take those non-medical factors and conditions into account, and use this information to protect and promote health, while ensuring that investments are used efficiently to provide the greatest benefit to communities.”

The HIA program grant of up to $250,000 will allow an organization in California with prior experience to conduct at least two new HIAs and to implement a plan that establishes the relationships, systems, and funding mechanisms needed to maintain a stable, self-supporting HIA program that endures beyond the conclusion of the grant period.

The demonstration project grant will support a single HIA in California with up to $75,000 in funding. Applicants need not have prior experience conducting an HIA. The Health Impact Project will provide training and technical assistance to all grantees throughout each grant.

The California Endowment supported the Health Impact Project’s previous call for proposals, supporting two grantees conducting three HIAs:

  • The County of Alameda, California Public Health Department will conduct an HIA to examine the impacts of changes to the Regional Transportation Plan, specifically changes to bus access. Availability of transportation may affect health through changing access to jobs, quality schools, medical care and social services, and grocery and retail stores. The HIA will focus on equity impacts, or how the new plan might affect different populations in different ways.
  • California Rural Legal Assistance will conduct two HIAs to inform the development of state-mandated plans in Kern and Fresno Counties that will guide local land use, transportation, and other policies relevant to greenhouse gas emissions, as required by California’s Senate Bill 375. The HIAs will examine the ways in which these plans may influence factors important to health, such as access to sidewalks, bike lanes, open space, healthy foods, health care services, as well as exposure to air pollution.

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The Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, is a leading national initiative exclusively dedicated to promoting the use of health impact assessments in the United States.

The California Endowment is a private, statewide health foundation, which was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles. The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people's health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. For more information, visit The Endowment’s homepage at www.calendow.org

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