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City of Akron Press Release
Published: 05-17-2016

City of Akron to join innovative, national program to improve health in low-income neighborhoods

            Akron, Ohio, May 17, 2016 – The City of Akron has been selected by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to take part in the new Invest Health initiative. Invest Health is aimed at transforming how leaders from mid-size American cities work together to help low-income communities thrive, with specific attention to community features that drive health such as access to safe and affordable housing, places to play and exercise, and quality jobs.

Akron was selected from more than 180 teams from 170 communities that applied. Cities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000 were asked to form five-member teams including representatives from the public sector, community development, and an anchor institution, preferably academic or health-related. The Akron team comprises of representatives from the City of Akron, Summa Health System, East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation, Arlington Church of God and the Testa Companies.

“As we work to create an inclusive economy in Akron, our approach must focus on education, income, and health,” said Mayor Horrigan.

Invest Health gives us the opportunity to access national expertise which we will leverage to generate positive outcomes at the neighborhood level,” he added.

“Our Invest Health team members were very enthusiastic about applying for this grant, meeting and completing the requirements in a short period of time. We believe our ability to do this and the fact that we as partners have a history of collaboration contributed to the strength of the Akron team’s application. We are looking forward to beginning the program and accomplishing more good things in Akron neighborhoods,” said Dr. Terry Albanese, Assistant to the Mayor for Education, Health and Families.

Mid-size American cities face some of the nation’s deepest challenges with entrenched poverty, poor health and a lack of investment. But they also offer fertile ground for strategies that improve health and have the potential to boost local economies. The program seeks to fundamentally transform the approach Akron takes to improve opportunities for residents to live healthy lives by addressing the drivers of health including jobs, housing, education, community safety and environmental conditions.

 “With a long history in community development finance, we are excited to help create a pipeline to channel capital into low-income communities through public and private investments,” said Amanda High, Chief of Strategic Initiatives at Reinvestment Fund.

“Our goal is to transform how cities approach tough challenge; share lessons learned and spur creative collaboration,” added High.

Over the next 18 months, Invest Health teams will take part in a vibrant learning community, have access to highly skilled faculty advisors and coaches who will guide their efforts toward improved health, and receive a $60,000 grant. Akron will also engage a broader group of local stakeholders to encourage local knowledge sharing.  Learning from the program will be synthesized and disseminated through the project website.

“Public officials, community developers, and many others have been working in low-income neighborhoods for years, but they haven’t always worked together,” said Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH, MBA, RWJF Vice President, Program. “Invest Health aims to align their work and help neighborhoods thrive by intentionally incorporating health into community development.”

Team Akron’s projects will explore a broad range of ideas from updates in housing and real estate development to neighborhood –based resources that include opportunities for health improvement and increased employment.  Examples include new and upgraded housing, retail destinations, planned green spaces and improved walkability, access to primary care and other neighborhood amenities. Project teams will travel to Philadelphia for a kick-off meeting on June 7 and will meet regularly to share lessons learned throughout the 18-month project.  A full list of awardees and more information is available at



About The Reinvestment Fund

Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for change in low-income communities. We integrate data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. Using analytical and financial tools, we bring high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to the communities that need better access—creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productive lives. Learn more at


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

For further information, contact:
Christine R. Curry
Director of Communications
166 South High Street, Akron, OH 44306
Phone: 330/375-2209
E-mail: [email protected]

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