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IHI Announces Final Selection of Communities for Health-Focused Scale Initiative

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) today announced the 24 communities that will receive funding to accelerate and deepen efforts to improve the health of their populations. Made possible by a $4.8 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and led by IHI, the communities will engage in an ambitious initiative called SCALE, or Spreading Community Accelerators through Learning and Evaluation. Three partner organizations – Community Solutions, Communities Joined in Action, and the Collaborative Health Network – will join with IHI in assisting the 24 awardees with developing further skills and strategies to improve the health of their communities as well as the mechanisms to spread effective community-driven approaches across the country.

Soma Stout, MD, MS, IHI’s Executive External Lead for Health Improvement, added, “Now, we look forward to bringing the awardees together to deepen their ability to create effective improvement and to generously share what’s currently working in various locales. Communities don’t need to start from scratch to reduce homelessness, ease poverty, or fill neighborhoods with healthier food options. Effective interventions already exist that can be more widely adapted – and that process happens naturally when communities start to engage with one another. The awardees all have in common a readiness and eagerness to learn from each other.”“The interviewing team was very impressed with all of the SCALE applicants, and pleased to see such great interest from so many US communities looking to accelerate their health improvement journey. It was very difficult to pare down from our 57 finalists to today’s 24 awardees,” stated Laura Brennan, MSW, Immediate Past Chair, Communities Joined in Action.

Over the next two years, SCALE will match the four announced today as “mentor communities” – those with a recent track record of achieving better health – with 20 now designated as “pacesetter communities” or seeking to accelerate their pace of change. Kicking off activity in May 2015, the communities will assess their current assets and skills; begin building or enhancing a set of community-health metrics; and attend a Community Health Improvement Academy that will strengthen everyone’s capabilities in leadership, change management, and improvement practices. Each community coalition will work on issues as diverse as increasing food access to reducing substance abuse to helping more people gain healthy literacy.

“We are so pleased with the level of interest in this initiative from communities working hard to improve health locally,” said Robin E. Mockenhaupt, PhD, Chief of Staff at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We look forward to seeing the learning, sharing, and impact that results from the efforts of these participating communities.”