The Aetna Foundation Awards More Than $2.4 Million in Grants to Help Improve Health in Communities Nationwide | Business Wire

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As part of its continued commitment to address social determinants of

health (SDOH), the Aetna Foundation today announced it's awarded more

than $2.4 million in grants to 25 nonprofits across the U.S. as part of

its larger Building Healthy Communities initiative. The funding was

announced today by Aetna Foundation President, Dr. Garth Graham, MD,

MPH, in Washington, D.C. at The

Equity of Health, an event held in conjunction with The Atlantic


The Aetna Foundation’s support is happening at a critical time when the

medical community is placing greater emphasis on SDOH. A person’s

genetic makeup only accounts for 30 percent of their overall health,

while factors outside the doctor’s office such as access to economic

opportunities, healthy food options. Safe spaces influence as much

as 60 percent of an individual’s health1.

Increasing Access to Healthy Foods at School &. At Home

Among these awards are two grants to support access to nutritious meals

in vulnerable populations. Meals on Wheels America has been awarded a

$174,000 grant to provide adequate nutrition for seniors at risk of

malnutrition following hospitalization. In addition, Share Our

Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign has been awarded a $225,000 grant to

increase access to free school breakfasts for 10,000 students in Texas

and Florida schools.

Insufficient access to nutrition is linked to poor health and social

outcomes. Childhood food insecurity, which affects 1 in 6 children2

nationally, has been linked to increased hospitalizations, stunted

development. Reduced test scores in school3.

Additionally, inadequate food access affects 1 in 12 seniors4

nationally. Food insecure seniors are 78 percent more likely to

experience depression4 and have greater use of healthcare

services and related costs5.

Supporting Community Impact

Also included in this year’s awards are 23 grants totalling more than $2

million made through the Cultivating Healthy Communities (CHC)

initiative, which directly support resident-driven projects focused on

making measurable improvements in the health outcomes of communities.

The grants are being made at a time when low-income, nonwhite

communities are disproportionately burdened by chronic conditions like

obesity, heart disease and diabetes6. More than half of

all avoidable deaths in the U.S. are caused by behaviour factors7,

which are directly shaped by SDOH.

“We know there’s no single solution to building a healthy community,”

said Karen Lynch, a member of the Board of the Directors for the Aetna

Foundation and President of Aetna. “In order to make a real, lasting

impact, we must empower the organizations on the ground, who understand

the unique needs and challenges of that community, with the tools they

need to create and implement local solutions.”

This year, CHC funding is focused on projects in which residents have a

lead role in designing and implementing the activities. Youth

empowerment is a specific priority, with more than $800,000 awarded to

projects that'll mobilise youth leaders to address community health

concerns. In addition, awards totalling more than $750,000 have been

designated for projects that seek to promote health through changes to

local policy.

Since 2016, the Aetna Foundation has awarded more $6 million in grants

through the CHC program, which is a cornerstone of their

multimillion-dollar commitment to Building Healthy Communities.

This year, grants have been awarded to the following projects:













State Served




School District









The Orchard Community Learning Centre, in partnership with a nearby

elementary school, will work with students to expand hours at a

student-run restaurant that provides healthy food options for the

community, business skills for the students. Supports a local

food system that also includes an urban farm and the school


Indian Museum
&. Cultural









A youth-led social enterprise will address diet-related health

disparities in Sonoma County’s Native communities while educating

Native people and other consumers about the health benefits of

traditional foods by producing and selling acorn-based food products

in existing healthy food retail spaces.










Teenage leaders will improve public safety in their community by

identifying and documenting safety concerns, working with the local

police department to address the issues they identify. Hosting

community events to share their work with the community.

The Children’s
Home, Inc.









Grandparent caregivers struggling with poverty and poor health will

learn skills to improve both their and their grandchildren’s

well-being through a peer-supported, self-management approach that

addresses diet, physical activity. Stress management.

Healthy Babies
Coalition of










Broward County residents will work with community centers and

libraries to improve maternal/child health outcomes during pregnancy

by providing women and their families with free indoor fitness

activities, nutrition education. Stress management classes.

Urban Health









Urban Health Partnerships and local nonprofit partners will work

closely with older residents to achieve policy changes that create

social and built environments that meet the needs of older adults.

Association Inc









Three charter schools serving low-income populations will improve

the health of students and their families through organised physical

activity, access to community gardens. Education on stress

reduction techniques.

Activity And










A student advisory council will improve health of peers and their

families by working with school officials and community partners to

implement new health services and policies in two Broward County


Soccer In The
Streets Inc









Soccer in the Streets will make soccer accessible for youth and

adults throughout Atlanta by creating fields at transit stations and

providing recreational and competitive leagues, eliminating barriers

of transportation and cost for underserved youth.

Law &. Policy
Centre Of The









The Environmental Law &. Policy Centre of the Midwest and local

community groups will reduce levels of pollution that can cause

asthma and other illnesses by engaging residents to monitor air

quality and developing an air quality data platform to build public

support for improved air quality.

Beautiful Inc









Keep Indianapolis Beautiful will help neighbourhood groups eliminate

blight and create community gathering spaces by providing supplies

and support to transform vacant lots into resident-designed pocket


La Comunidad









La Comunidad will improve address high stress levels among

immigrants in Everett, MA, by training interpreters and storytellers

who'll work with residents and police to craft community policing

strategies that address residents’ most pressing safety concerns.










FoodLab Detroit will work to strengthen Detroit’s regional food

economy by providing over 200 local entrepreneurs with hands-on

education, resources. Opportunities for community learning to

support their work distributing, processing. Selling healthy


Foundation Inc






North Carolina



Youth participants will increase utilisation of active

transportation options through a design process aimed at improving

residents’ access to bicycles.

National PTA






North Carolina



National PTA will help students and parents at three schools make

healthier food choices through improved school menu options, family

food tastings of healthy options. Sample kits to help families

try new foods at home.

Charlotte Inc






North Carolina



Residents of two low-income Charlotte neighbourhoods will improve

bicycle and pedestrian access to transit infrastructure by working

with elected officials and their neighbors to advance transportation


Walnut Hills
Foundation Inc









Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation will increase food access and

create opportunities for food entrepreneurs by developing unused

space into a multifunctional food hub.










Grounded Strategies will support youth and residents in two

Pennsylvania towns in reducing blight and improving their

community’s access to green spaces by equipping participants with

the skills, resources. Tools to redevelop vacant lots into

community assets.

The Food Trust









Youth leaders will increase access to healthy foods in Philadelphia

by working with corner store owners to stock and promote healthy

food choices and working with schools to host farm stands.

Air Alliance









Air Alliance Houston will reduce exposure to traffic-related air

pollutants and increase physical activity among children at four

school campuses by implementing activities that encourage active

transit and reduce personal vehicle use and school bus idling.

Houston Health









Houston Health Foundation will promote food access and well-being

among immigrant populations by supporting youth in developing an

urban agriculture enterprise that produces and sells native crops.

Fit4Kids, Inc









Fit4Kids will increase opportunities for health for students by

training youth, parents. Organizational partners to address

system and policy issues, such as ensuring daily recess and reducing

sugar content in school breakfasts.

Core-El Centro









An action board of Latina residents will improve public safety and

build trust and communication between residents and the Milwaukee

Police Department by acting as a liaison between their community and

police and providing community events to share information and

foster understanding.


Media Contact:
Ethan Slavin, 860-273-6095
[email protected]
BRG Communications
Katy Frame, 703-739-8358
[email protected]