Oakland County receives $60,000 grant to improve health in City of Pontiac

The City of Pontiac has been selected as one of 50 Invest Health cities by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced. Oakland County Health Division, on behalf of their Healthy Pontiac, We Can! coalition, will lead this new initiative in an effort to create a more walkable/bikeable community.

“By creating more opportunities to live a healthier, more active lifestyle, we can improve the quality of life for Pontiac residents,” Patterson said. “Invest Health transforms how our local leaders work together and connects to our countywide health improvement plan that aims to improve health outcomes. I salute the Health Division and our partners for these efforts.”

Pontiac’s Invest Health team will build upon existing non-motorized transportation efforts to: assess public transit routes; identify locations that integrate people with health care, housing developments, healthy food, parks, community centers, downtown businesses, etc.; and make environmental improvements at target locations that increase access by walking or biking and enhance safety.

Pontiac was selected from more than 180 teams across 170 communities that applied for the grant. Cities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000 were asked to form five-member teams including representatives from the public sector, community development, academic and/or health-related. The Pontiac team comprises representatives from the Health Division’s Healthy Pontiac, We Can! coalition which includes Oakland County Health Division, Oakland County Commissioner David Bowman (District 10-Pontiac), Oakland County Economic and Community Development, Oakland University, and St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital.

“Public officials, community developers, and many others have been working in low-income neighborhoods for years, but they haven’t always worked together,” said Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH, MBA, RWJF Vice President, Programs. “Invest Health aims to align their work and help neighborhoods thrive by intentionally incorporating health into community development.”

Over the next 18 months, Invest Health teams will take part in a vibrant learning community, have access to highly skilled advisors and coaches who will guide their efforts toward improved health, and receive a $60,000 grant. Pontiac’s Invest Health team will also engage a broader group of local stakeholders to encourage local knowledge sharing. A full list of awardees and more information is available at www.investhealth.org.

About Healthy Pontiac, We Can! 
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson supports and promotes initiatives, organizations, and events that improve quality of life through healthier and more active lifestyles. The county’s Health Division formed the Healthy Pontiac, We Can! coalition in 2011 to help Pontiac residents gain access to healthy food, become active, and live tobacco free. The coalition includes a diverse group of primary and preventative healthcare professionals, mental health experts, human service agency specialists, educators, clergy, government leaders, and local residents. For more information, visit the Healthy Pontiac, We Can! website at healthypontiac.org or find them on Facebook @HealthyPontiac.MI

About Reinvestment Fund
Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for change in low-income communities. We integrate data, policy, and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. Using analytical and financial tools, we bring high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools, and health centers to the communities that need better access—creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productive lives. Learn more at reinvestment.com.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.

For up-to-date public health information, visit www.oakgov.com/health, follow the Health Division on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter @publichealthOC, or call Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533.