Welcome to the Challenge


Tier 2: Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: Village HeartBEAT;
Tier 1: Bridgeport, Connecticut: East End NRZ pop-up market and café
Read the News Release.

Mecklenburg HCCC Winner Bridgeport HCCC Winner 

The Mecklenburg County Health Department led Village HeartBEAT program wins the $500,000 grand prize for mid-sized cities and counties (populations 250,001 – 600,000) and Bridgeport's Coalition United to Reach Equity (CURE) earns the grand prize of $250,000 for small-sized cities and counties (populations 65,000 – 250,000).

Listen to the Healthy Communities podcast Winners Episodes featuring the two communities.  

Over the course of the Challenge, both winners built on innovative solutions to improve local health outcomes yielding strong and scalable results: 

In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, the African-American population is disproportionately impacted by cardiovascular disease by nearly 20 percent compared to their white counterparts. To combat this, Village HeartBEAT activated more than 60 local faith-based organizations to help more than 20,000 local residents access health resources to reduce cardiovascular risk. As a result, VHB reduced smoking in the community from 17.4 percent to 13.9 percent and obesity rates from 70 percent to 64.7 percent.


Bridgeport (CT) CURE addressed decades of food insecurity and public mistrust through the development of a grocery store in a documented food desert. The East End NRZ pop-up market and café provides access to healthy foods and living wage jobs, while also sparking greater community cohesiveness. Over the past three years, Bridgeport CURE secured more than 53,000 volunteer hours and leveraged strong cross-sector partnerships to overcome major policy obstacles. 


The Challenge also awards eight runners-up:

Tier 2: Camden, New Jersey: Camden SMART, Hillsborough County, Florida: Garden Steps, Louisville, Kentucky: West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative, and Miami, Florida: Live Well Little Havana.

Tier 1: Chatham County, North Carolina: Leveraging Partnerships Built Through the Comprehensive Plan, Danville, Virginia: The Health Collaborative, Waco-McLennan County, Texas: Community Efforts to Increase Consumption of Locally Grown Fresh Foods, and Wyandotte County, Kansas: Healthy Community Corridor

What was the Challenge? Over the last two years, we called on 50 cities and counties across the country to strive for a healthy city/county that is economically competitive, inclusive and equitable. They have done just that. The Challenge has awarded more than $1.5 million in prizes to those most able to create a positive health impact in their communities. Go to our about the Challenge page to learn more.

The Challenge partners — the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties — could not be more proud. 

All HealthyCommunity50 projects have made incredible progress in their communities. Check out our map page to learn more about how our HealthyCommunity50 improved health in the areas of healthy behaviors, community safety, built environment, social/economic factors and environmental exposures.

Where does your community rank? U.S. News & World Report, in collaboration with the Aetna Foundation, released the Healthiest Communities rankings, a new report that surveyed more than 3,000 communities nationwide. Go to our why healthy cities and counties page to learn more. 

Just wait, there’s more. Interested in how your city and county can get involved?  Email us


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HC50 Learning Network

HealthyCommunity50 finalists can log into the Learning Network to join discussions, connect with fellow finalists, get inspiration and cheer each other on!