Dear friends, supporters, and colleagues,

The beginning of a new decade, like the start of a new year, presents us with the opportunity to look back and look ahead—to reflect on our work and accomplishments from 2019, re-commit ourselves to social change, and envision our work for 2020 and the decade ahead.

Prevention Institute spent 2019 working with communities, funders, and partner organizations to advance four strategies that are key to achieving our vision that all people experience their full potential for health, safety, and wellbeing across the course of their lives through thriving, equitable communities:

  1. Shape new prevention and health equity solutions and catalyze INNOVATION
  2. Build the PRACTICE of effective prevention
  3. Advance POLICY AND SYSTEMS change in support of health, safety, and wellbeing
  4. Generate MOMENTUM for comprehensive prevention and health equity

Sometimes our work emphasizes a single strategy, but, more often, it moves several of these strategies forward. For example, we might INNOVATE solutions, informed by communities’ experiences; then build tools and provide training to advance PRACTICE; then identify POLICY and SYSTEMS change to scale and sustain improvements; all the while building MOMENTUM for prevention and health equity. (To learn more about our strategies and approach, see our strategic framework, Health, Safety, and Wellbeing for All.)

In 2019, PI applied our strategies to an increasingly broad set of issues—the opioid crisis, public infrastructure investments, men’s mental health and wellbeing, and many others. Throughout all of this work:

  • We always looked upstream for solutions and tried to address problems before people get sick or injured.
  • We always emphasized community conditions, because people need a healthy community environment to be able to be healthy and keep their families healthy.
  • We always incorporated health equity, because many illnesses and injuries occur in greater frequency and severity in communities that have suffered from disenfranchisement and underinvestment.

We’re very proud to present you with highlights of our work from last year, as well as a preview of what we have planned for 2020. We hope you will join us on this journey, and we look forward to hearing from you and working side by side with you in 2020 and beyond.


Created the “Health in All Communities” Virtual Reality Experience

Health in All Communities is the first virtual reality (VR) experience known to have been developed explicitly to reach policymakers. It takes viewers into communities and shows what they look like when investments are in place that support access to safe housing, reliable transportation, and healthy, affordable food—and when they’re not. PI partnered with the American College of Preventive Medicine, the de Beaumont Foundation, and Brightline Interactive to create the VR experience.

* The development of the VR technology was supported by the de Beaumont Foundation.

Engaged new sectors in preventing intimate partner violence

Prevention Institute facilitates Safety Through Connection, an initiative that supports organizations that work on other issues—such as nutrition and physical activity, worker rights, and mental health—to focus on preventing intimate partner violence and promoting safe relationships. The program bolsters community coalitions in McKinleyville, Oakland, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego, Calif. Each coalition has found that many sectors have a role to play in making intimate partner violence a community issue—rather than a private one.

* This work was supported by the Blue Shield of California Foundation.

Applied prevention science to the opioid epidemic

Prevention Institute staff authored “Addressing Community Trauma and Building Community Resilience to Prevent Opioid Misuse and Addiction,” a chapter in the book A Public Health Guide to Ending the Opioid Epidemic. It describes the value of elevating primary prevention in the fight against the opioid epidemic. That means going beyond preventing opioid overdoses and deaths to preventing substance misuse in the first place by addressing the community conditions that put people at risk. PI also worked with 12 Ohio counties hard hit by the opioid epidemic to apply this community-level, upstream prevention approach.

* This book was published by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). PI’s work on opioids was supported by the Well Being Trust and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Partnered with healthcare to improve community health

Prevention Institute co-led the Intersections Initiative, which brings together coalitions from seven communities served by Providence-St. Joseph Health System hospitals to advance health equity by improving the community conditions that shape health. PI provided technical assistance, training, and strategic support to the Intersections coalitions. We also promoted the initiative’s approach through presentations at the American Hospital Association Leadership Summit, National Network of Public Health Institutes annual gathering, the American Public Health Association’s annual conference, and others.

* This work was co-led and supported by the St. Joseph Health Community Partnership Fund and will continue throughout 2020.


Facilitated eight “communities of practice”

Communities of practice bring together organizations working on similar issues to learn from and provide feedback to each other. Prevention Institute facilitated eight communities of practice that brought together groups working across diverse geographies, communities, and identities to develop effective strategies and inform policy and systems change. These communities of practice focus on issues such as healthy and equitable land use, violence prevention, mental health and wellbeing, and others. Our work with them has reinforced our understanding of the importance of community members taking the lead in transforming their neighborhoods.

* The communities of practice are supported by Movember, Blue Shield of California Foundation, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, St. Joseph Health Community Partnership Fund, the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, The California Endowment, CDC, and the BUILD Health Funding Collaborative.

Supported 96 cities and counties to strengthen public health and health equity efforts

Prevention Institute advanced prevention and health equity throughout the nation by providing training, technical assistance, and consulting in 96 cities, states, and counties during 2019. For example, we provided training and technical assistance to the CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity awardees. PI also served as the primary liaison and coach for eight sites located in Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and New Jersey that were part of the BUILD Health Challenge.

* This work was supported by the CDC, LISC Houston, the City of Long Beach, Episcopal Health Foundation, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Contra Costa County, Santa Clara County, the Notah Begay III Foundation, the BUILD Health Funding Collaborative, and many others.

Published a new edition of the groundbreaking Community-Centered Health Homes paper

Prevention Institute published a new edition of Community-Centered Health Homes: Bridging healthcare services and community prevention. PI created the Community-Centered Health Homes (CCHH) model in 2011 to encourage and provide a structure for healthcare organizations to address the community factors that shape health, safety, and wellbeing. The new paper supports practice by describing the experiences of healthcare organizations piloting the CCHH model in the Gulf Coast states, North Carolina, Texas, and elsewhere.

* This work was supported by The Kresge Foundation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, Blue Shield of California Foundation, Center for Care Innovation, Episcopal Health Foundation, and Houston Endowment.

Explored how to ensure that government infrastructure investments improve health equity

How can government investments in stormwater infrastructure, transportation, and parks be structured to improve health equity? Through a Stanton Fellowship, Prevention Institute’s Deputy Executive Director Manal J. Aboelata researched past and present public health victories to learn about practices that can produce fair, just, and inclusive infrastructure investments. She traveled to Medellín, Colombia, to learn how that city has transformed itself through public health investments, and what we in the United States can learn from its example.

* This work was supported by the Durfee Foundation.

Policy and Systems Change

Helped secure millions of dollars for parks and park equity

Prevention Institute supported a successful ballot measure that will provide more than $90 million annually for parks and open spaces in Los Angeles County. PI also made sure the implementation of the ballot measure would help eliminate park inequities in park-poor, low-income Latino and Black neighborhoods. PI helped build and strengthen the Park Equity Alliance, a network of community organizations and leaders who advocated both for the original ballot measure and the implementation guidelines to ensure health equity commitments will be met.

* This work was supported by The California Endowment and the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation.

Stood up for equity and justice to achieve federal policy wins

In 2019, Prevention Institute and our partners advocated for and won increased federal funding for the CDC Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program. PI also worked with the coalition of organizations that have temporarily blocked the implementation of a new “public charge” policy that would deny legal residency to immigrants deemed likely to rely on health-supporting government programs. We also submitted ten formal public comments; joined an amicus brief filed in five lawsuits; issued more than 20 calls to action through e-alerts and social media; and published two policy-related op-eds.

Successfully advocated for Proposition 64 youth funds to go to prevention

Along with a statewide coalition of grassroots partners, Prevention Institute successfully advocated for Prop 64 (The Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act) youth fund dollars to support prevention activities, with an emphasis on investments in communities most impacted by the war on drugs. PI has a representative on the California Department of Health Care Services Prop 64 advisory board, which has made recommendations on the design of the request for proposals and the allocation of funds for youth programs focused on preventing substance use disorder. PI also wrote a brief describing successful approaches and programs.

* Photo credit: RYSE Center

* * PI’s brief about youth-focused programs was supported by The California Endowment.

Assisted Los Angeles County to launch its Office of Violence Prevention

Prevention Institute worked with the LA County Department of Public Health to lay the groundwork for its first Office of Violence Prevention, which opened in April. PI conducted listening sessions about violence with community-based organizations and faith-based groups, and interviewed subject matter experts, including service providers and survivors of multiple forms of violence. PI also assisted the Department of Public Health in crafting recommendations that were presented to the Board of Supervisors, which ultimately voted to allocate $6 million for initial funding.

* This work was supported by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and The California Endowment.

Insisted that health equity be taken into account in land use investments

The HEALU Network, which Prevention Institute facilitates, presented a four-part “innovation summit” series in Los Angeles exploring how to ensure health equity and racial justice through mandated investments in public infrastructure like parks, transit, roads, and water systems. Through the series, over 450 participants shared what they’ve learned—and grappled with—while trying to establish policies that make sure infrastructure investments help close gaps in health, safety, and opportunity rather than perpetuating inequities.

* Image: PI staff and board members with Kevin de León, President pro Tempore Emeritus of the California State Senate.

** This work was supported by the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation and The California Endowment.


Amplified Prevention Institute’s perspective in local and national media outlets

Last year Prevention Institute published 16 op-eds and blogs in local and national media outlets. We covered a full range of topics, including preventing intimate partner violence, holding drug companies accountable for the opioid epidemic, creating community gathering spaces for healing community trauma, and involving hospitals in community health, among others. These pieces were published in The Hill, San Francisco Chronicle, California Health Report, Health Affairs, Mental Health America’s blog, Shelterforce, NACCHO Voice, and others.

* This work is supported by funders across all of our program areas.

Pressed for community- and equity-driven approaches to safety

Prevention Institute built momentum for a public health approach to preventing violence in a variety of ways. We partnered with Cities United to develop talking points for US mayors that encourage comprehensive community safety plans. We joined PolicyLink and others to co-sponsor legislation for a California Office of Healthy and Safe Communities. We facilitated a peer-learning forum about the need to embed racial equity into violence prevention efforts and facilitated a panel on gun violence and racial equity at the annual conference of the American Public Health Association. PI also joined the leadership team of the CDC Division of Violence Prevention Action Council.

* This work is supported by The Langeloth Foundation and The California Wellness Foundation.

Used video and audio storytelling to convey the power of community transformation

Prevention Institute’s Moving Upstream podcast team produced 11 podcasts in 2019, featuring interviews about preventing gun violence, promoting mental health and wellbeing among men and boys, and learning from Medellin's, transformative public health investments, among other topics, PI also released two videos: one features the East San Jose PEACE Partnership. The other focuses on PI’s work with organizations in Milwaukee and Honolulu. These stories inspire other communities by showing them what’s possible.

* This work is supported by funders across all of our program areas.

Built momentum for applying a systems approach to public health and health equity

Following the successful release of the System of Prevention book in late 2018, Prevention Institute developed a range of webinars, presentations, and multi-day workshops. We piloted our core training on advancing a system of prevention to achieve racial and health equity with the Mariposa County Health Department and its partners. Other highlights include presentations at four state and national events, a statewide training for California health department accreditors, and a webinar attended by more than 400 participants nationwide. PI also published a commentary about taking a systems approach to public health in the Health Promotion Practice journal.

* This work was supported by The California Endowment.

Prevention Institute’s executive director won the APHA Award for Excellence

The American Public Health Association honored Prevention Institute Executive Director Rachel A. Davis with the 2019 APHA Award for Excellence. The award is given each year to an individual who has made an exceptionally meritorious contribution to improve community health. Davis received the award for her “forward thinking vision, outstanding leadership, and commitment to creating thriving, equitable communities.” She was also recognized for having developed tools and frameworks that encouraged violence to be treated as a public health issue. This award generates momentum for PI’s upstream, community-level prevention approach to creating thriving, equitable communities.

* PI’s Rachel A. Davis receiving the APHA Award for Excellence.

Moving into 2020

Throughout 2019, Prevention Institute drew inspiration from the communities and organizations we partnered with as we learned together about how we can all become more effective in creating and supporting neighborhoods that are thriving, equitable places to live.

As we move into 2020, we plan to keep our sights firmly set on advancing equitable health, safety, wellbeing. We will build on our 2019 accomplishments, continue to collaborate with communities and other partners, and

  • Elevate racial justice across our efforts, because we know that racism is a threat to public health and that we can’t achieve better health outcomes for everyone if we don’t take on racism.
  • Emphasize belonging and connectedness, control of one’s destiny, dignity, hope and aspiration, safety, and trust. These are the “pillars of wellbeing” that have been articulated by communities that have experienced trauma and despair.
  • Attend deeply to the multiple communities of practice we have the honor of working with and look across them to identify common threads that can inform our collective efforts to advance health, safety and wellbeing.

Following are just a few examples of what we have in the works.

Plans for 2020

Connect the built environment with early childhood development

On behalf of First 5 LA, Prevention Institute is co-designing the Built Environment Policy Advocacy Fund (BEPAF), a grant program that will develop the policy-advocacy capacity of resident leaders and organizations in Los Angeles to promote built environment policies that support healthy childhood development. Through the fund, LA community members will gain skills to advocate for parks and open space, active transportation, public transit, and food security in the county’s most under-resourced communities.

* This work is supported by First 5 LA, whose executive director, Kim Belshe, is featured in this photo alongside LA political and community leaders as well as young Angelenos.

Partner with Texas communities to shift power in support of wellbeing

Prevention Institute coordinates Communities of Care, a five-year initiative to support 10 community collaboratives in the greater Houston Metropolitan Area. These collaboratives are working to transform the environments where people live, learn, work, play, and pray to support resilience, mental health, and wellbeing among children and youth of color and their families. As a guiding principle, Communities of Care focuses on equity to ensure that historically excluded and under-represented groups are included in this community-driven initiative.

*This work is supported by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.

Put local data to work for health equity and racial justice

As part of the Visualizing and Powering Healthy Lives initiative, Prevention Institute and our partners are analyzing how parks and green spaces impact life expectancy and health. The UCLA Department of Environmental Sciences is modeling LA County census-tract-level life expectancy data and its relationship to parks and green space. PI and the project’s community advisory board, comprised of seven community-based power-building organizations rooted in LA communities of color, will use the analysis to develop an advocacy toolbox to support efforts to increase investments in “park poor” communities.

* This map is from the Los Angeles Countywide Parks Needs Assessment. PI played an integral role.

** This work is supported by the Urban Institute with resources originating from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Strengthen the capacity of health departments to measure progress on violence prevention

Prevention Institute, in partnership with Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), will help BCHC health departments strengthen their capacity to measure progress on preventing violence, with an emphasis on resilience, equity, and population-level impacts. During the first phase of this work, PI will assess the data needs and abilities of the health departments and work with BCHC members to move toward adopting a common set of measures for monitoring and evaluating violence prevention.

* This work is supported by the Big Cities Health Coalition and the de Beaumont Foundation.

Spread what’s been learned from the Making Connections initiative

Since 2016, Prevention Institute and Movember have partnered with 13 community-based coalitions across the US on Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys, a national initiative to transform community conditions to support mental wellbeing. The initiative focuses on men and boys of color, military service members, and veterans. In 2020, PI will disseminate what’s been learned from the Making Connections coalitions, including their identification of “pillars of wellbeing”—core stabilizing elements needed for people and communities to flourish.

* This work is supported by Movember.