About Building Healthy Communities

About Building Healthy Communities

Health Happens when all of us matter. Building Healthy Communities partners are changing the odds so that every Californian gets a chance at a long, healthy life by addressing the causes of poor health.

Building Healthy Communities (BHC) is a 10 year, $1 billion comprehensive community initiative launched by The California Endowment in 2010 to advance statewide policy, change the narrative, and transform 14 of California’s communities most devastated by health inequities into places where all people have an opportunity to thrive.

Where you live shouldn’t determine how long you live, but it does. In fact, health has more to do with place than doctors’ visits. The odds are stacked against low-income communities and communities of color. Because of a legacy of racial and economic segregation, anti-immigrant policy and a host of other historical “isms’, there are many communities in California where the neighborhood environment conspires to harm resident. These environments lack basic health protective amenities like parks, grocery stores, decent schools, functioning transportation systems, affordable and decent housing, living wage jobs, and even potable water in some instances. Public systems are on life support, stranding residents in pressure cookers of stress. These neighborhood and community environments are not natural; they are manmade, and can be unmade.

Our new video, “A Tale of Two Zip Codes,” brings to light an important fact: those who live in more affluent communities will live an average of 15 years longer than their neighbors in disadvantaged communities. What separates them is more than distance. It’s opportunity, education, access to care, safer streets — in short, it’s everything you’d want to have for a healthy, happy, and productive life. We need to reshape the places that shape us—our neighborhoods. Because regardless of where you live, what happens to the least of us, ultimately happens to all of us.

Our goal is healthy, fair, and just communities for all people who call California home. Our theory for how to get there is simple: We are strengthening the fabric of our democracy by investing in the social, economic, and political power of the very residents who have been the targets of exclusion, stigma, and discrimination. Transformative and sustained change also take youth leadership, strong partnerships, and a compelling new story about how health happens—or should happen—in all communities. Youth and adults residents are harnessing this power and voice to change the rules at the local and state levels so that everyone is valued and has access to the resources and opportunities essential for health. Over time, these changes will lead to better health outcomes for all.

To go deeper into our theory of change, check out the image below.