A $1 million grant will explore which Appalachian communities have become healthier and how that success could be replicated across the region and the country.
The Appalachian Regional Commission, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky announced Monday a three-year "bright spots" health research project. The program, Creating a Culture of Health in Appalachia: Disparities and Bright Spots, will run through 2017.
According to a news release, the project will identify areas in the 13 Appalachian states, including Kentucky, that are "bright spots" — places where health is improving although high rates of unemployment and poverty persist.
The project also will determine why some communities are doing well while others are having less success.
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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest philanthropy in the country focusing solely on public health, is providing $750,000 for the project. Appalachian Regional Commission, a regional economic development agency created by Congress, will contribute $250,000.
The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky will administer the project but will contract the field work. A request for proposals to conduct that work will be issued in March.
"This ground-breaking effort will provide a deeper understanding of factors that contribute to or undermine community health," said Susan Zepeda, president of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. "Bright spots allow us to go beyond the data on economic and health status to community conversations and help us learn more about what's important for an enduring local culture of health."
The Foundation is a non-profit focusing on health policy through grant making, research and education.