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What Works for Health

Explore programs and policies that work!

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Choose Effective Policies & Programs for Community Development

As communities choose policies and programs that will be most effective for their unique situations, evidence and innovation both have a role to play. When faced with limited resources, communities are well served by directing money to strategies that have been shown to be effective. At the same time, the Community Development sector has long brought a spirit of entrepreneurialism to improving low-income communities, including the ability to spot opportunities and experiment with innovative strategies.1 When innovation makes most sense, it’s critical to evaluate your efforts to ensure that you are achieving your intended results.

  • What Works for Health is a great starting place to look for strategies your community may want implement. What Works for Health systematically rates evidence for policy and programs that will affect the health factors in the County Health Rankings model. Community Development leaders are key decision makers for several Policies and Programs listed in What Works for Health, begin exploring these strategies.  
  • What Works for Health: Strategies to Improve Rural Health was developed by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The report outlines key steps toward building healthy communities – rural, urban, and anywhere in between – along with some specific policies and programs that can improve health. Many of these policies and programs have been tested and implemented in rural communities. Although this report was developed with Wisconsin's policy landscape in mind, it can be a useful starting point for rural communities across the country.
  • The Building Healthy Places Toolkit from Urban Land Institute, includes 21 evidence-based recommendations related to physical activity, food and water, and the environment.
  • Community Development leaders can also look to various thought leaders for effective strategies or innovations in the field such as:
  • Opportunity Finance Network, a national network of community development financial institutions (CDFIs) investing in opportunities that benefit low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged communities across the country.
  • Low-Income Investment Fund (LIIF), a community development financial institution (CDFI) that provides innovative capital solutions that support healthy families and communities.
  • LISC supports neighborhood revitalization by providing financing, technical and management assistance, training opportunities, and policy support.
  • Rural LISC provides a wide range of services, including training, technical assistance, information and financial support, to help rural community developers address the problems rural communities face.
  • Investing in What Works for America’s Communities from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low-Income Investment Fund.

Consider the impact and Consider the context in the Choose Effective Policies and Programs guide provide guidance and tools to help you and your partners choose policies and programs that will make the most impact in your community.

For more information about selecting effective policies and programs, visit the Choose Effective Policies & Programs section in the Roadmaps to Health Action Center.

1. Seidman E. Integration and Innovation in a Time of Stress: Doing the Best for People and Place. In: Andrews NO, Erickson DJ, editors. Investing in What Works for America's Communities; 2012. p. 357.

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