About the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge

APHA, in partnership with the Aetna Foundation and National Association of Counties, will provide funding and non-financial support to communities in select states to address local health challenges through the new and updated Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge.

Communities in the Challenge will build partnerships that include residents, local government, nonprofit partners, businesses and more to advance health equity.

Challenge History

The inaugural Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge was a $1.5 million prize competition that launched in 2016. Small and mid-sized U.S. cities and counties as well as federally recognized tribes compete to develop practical, evidence-based strategies to improve measurable health outcomes and promote health and wellness, equity and social interaction. To improve economic vitality by moving the needle on health and wellness, cities and counties addressed issues of health equity and the social determinants of health.

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

Cities and counties participating in the Challenge considered these goals:

  1. Improving health of the people in their communities as a central goal through a "health in all policies" approach focusing on prevention, well-being and achieving health equity.
  2. Developing replicable strategies which will achieve measurable results.   
  3. Assuring synergy with other efforts in their jurisdiction when developing a new program, policy or action.
  4. Leveraging Challenge prize dollars with matching dollars from local funders (public, foundation and/or corporate sector support) to implement and sustain the project. 

Congratulations to our Healthiest Cities & Counties Finalists

Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge WINNER, cityscape, APHA, Aetna Foundation, NaCo logosHealthiest Cities & Counties Challenge Runner Up

Over the course of the Challenge, finalists built on innovative solutions to improve local health outcomes yielding strong and scalable results. Our winners: Tier 2: Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: Village HeartBEAT and Tier 1: Bridgeport, Connecticut: East End NRZ pop-up market and caféRead the News Release

The Mecklenburg County Health Department led Village HeartBEAT program won 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) earned the grand prize of $250,000 for small-sized cities and counties (populations 65,000 – 250,000). Watch the Aetna-produced Village HeartBEAT video and East End Market video.

The Challenge also awarded 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

Finalists Feature Series

Louisville, Kentucky's West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative is working to increase use of natural areas, spaces and parks. Check out the feature The Great Outdoors and Healthy Communities podcast Episode 12: West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative

In Wyandotte County, Kansas, the Healthy Community Corridor also aims to increase access to healthy spaces like parks. Check out the feature Light at the End of the Tunnel and Healthy Communities podcast Episode 11: Healthy Community Corridor