Training Available In Minnesota To Build Healthier Communities Through Health Impact Assessment
Training Precedes Release of Upcoming, Competitive Funding Opportunity
Minnesota organizations are invited to participate in an in-person training to learn about health impact assessments (HIAs). An HIA can help improve the well-being of local communities by incorporating health into decisions in other sectors. The training will help participants prepare for an upcoming, competitively-selected grant opportunity scheduled for release in March 2013. Organizations invited for the training include nonprofits, academic institutions and non-health agencies, such as planning and transportation.
An HIA helps identify and address the likely health benefits and risks of a decision made in another field outside the health sector. The major health problems facing the nation—like obesity, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and injuries—are driven by the conditions in the places where we live and work. HIAs help address those problems by factoring health into the policies and projects that shape those places.
The trainings will be hosted by the Health Impact Project, with funding from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation.
As part of the joint effort, the Health Impact Project and the Blue Cross Foundation plan to announce a competitive request for proposals to fund up to three HIA demonstration projects. Organizations that participate in the trainings will be well-positioned to respond to the call for proposals when the funding opportunity is announced in March of this year.
- February 5: Webinar, which will include instructions to register for the trainings
- March 4-5: Training in Hutchinson, Minnesota
- March 19-20: Training in Little Falls, Minnesota
- Mid to late March: Call for proposals announced
“The field of health impact assessment is growing quickly, as more and more cities, counties and states are finding it to be a useful tool to bring health into decisions in sectors like transportation, agriculture and energy,” said Aaron Wernham, M.D., director of the Health Impact Project. “Minnesota is on the forefront of that progress. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation has been a tremendous partner in supporting the growth of the field of HIA in their state.”
“We’re pleased to collaborate with The Pew Charitable Trusts on this cutting-edge approach to improving health,” said Carolyn Link, executive director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. “These projects fit well with our view that for people to be healthy, communities must be healthy.”
Each 1.5 days in length, the two trainings will be offered: March 4-5 in Hutchinson, Minnesota and March 19-20 in Little Falls, Minnesota. Participants also will receive one-on-one technical assistance before and after the event to help identify potential HIA topics. Travel stipends will be available by request based on need. Organizations wishing to submit an application to attend one of the trainings must join a webinar on February 5, 2013 at 2 pm Central, which will provide an introduction to health impact assessment and focus on how to select an appropriate topic for HIA, as well as instructions on how to register to attend the training. Up to 20 people will be selected for each training. Participants are strongly encouraged to attend a training with either a colleague from the same organization or a partner organization from another sector.
HIA is increasingly being used to bring public health concerns into public policy decisions. In 2007, there were 27 completed HIAs in the U.S. There are now over 200 completed and in-progress. According to the map of HIA activity in the U.S., there are 12 assessments in Minnesota, including the two supported by the Health Impact Project with funding from the Blue Cross Foundation:
- An HIA by the City of Minneapolis, for example, will inform revisions to the Above the Falls Master Plan, which is intended to increase public access and use of the waterfront, improve housing and employment opportunities, and reduce environmental contamination.
- The Bottineau Transitway HIA, conducted by Hennepin County, will inform planning decisions that have the potential to benefit the health of residents along the corridor by improving air quality; creating opportunities for exercise; improving access to grocery stores, employment, and health services; and spurring reinvestment in housing and retail services.
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. More information, including a searchable map of HIA activity in the U.S., is available at www.healthimpactproject.org