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Drexel School of Public Health hosts a seminar on LISC’s “Healthy Communities Initiative”

June 14, 2013

Faculty and deans representing diverse academic interests of Drexel University’s School of Public Health (SPH) joined Philadelphia LISC on Thursday, June 13th in a joint seminar focusing on LISC’s “Healthy Communities Initiative.”

Since September 2012, LISC has convened partners and stakeholders in its Sustainable Communities target neighborhoods – SCI West and SCI Eastern North – with health experts, academics, hospitals, universities, larger health nonprofits, and the City’s Department of Public Health. Since then, the  Healthy Communities Initiative (HCI) has worked together to develop coordinated, place-based strategies to impact health outcomes at the neighborhood level. The collective impact strategy means all partners are working toward the same population-level outcomes. The project offers an opportunity to build on the strength of health programs in both neighborhoods, and tie community development strategies to measurable improvements in the health of residents living in these neighborhoods.

HCI partners identified tangible goals for the collaborative to work toward: reduce obesity, reduce hypertension, reduce Diabetes, and improve overall health. The group also agreed to pursue projects that expand healthy eating, promote active lifestyles, and connect people to healthcare. So far, more than half a dozen projects have been prioritized for the coming year, including:

  • uGO! Lite, a 6-week community fitness initiative in West, linking residents to fun, fellowship, and healthy exercise in Saunders Park (People’s Emergency Center);
  • Tune Up Philly’s youth orchestra performances at the Fairhill Park farmers market in Eastern North;
  • Early planning and programming with Mantua residents around a proposed “Mantua Greenway” (We Are Mantua); and
  • Linking LISC’s Community Connector outreach and organizing teams with Temple University’s community health workers in a campaign around healthcare coverage in Eastern North, as a result of the new Affordable Care Act (APM).

The faculty and students who attended the seminar are engaged in a variety of programs, clinical approaches, research, and assessment activities aimed at improving health. They bring expertise on the clinical and community-based approaches that lead to significant health improvements and capacity for research and evaluation of health programs.

LISC program staff Sarah Sturtevant and David Ferris shared details of the HCI program to gain valuable feedback and invite participation and collaboration from Drexel’s health experts. “LISC is looking for opportunities to partner strength on strength – we’re not health experts but want to be key partners in health outcomes,” said Philadelphia LISC Director Andrew Frishkoff. In particular, we want to partner with health experts where we bring community engagement and place-based expertise to help meet health goals, he said.

After the presentation, LISC and SPH discussed different opportunities to work together to achieve better health outcomes: coordination between Drexel’s community programs and LISC’s HCI projects, support for data collection to establish a baseline of neighborhood health indicators, and support in program evaluation. Stay tuned as the HCI work unfolds!

The seminar is the latest development in a larger strategy of Philadelphia LISC, working to leverage the strengths of anchor institutions (universities, hospitals, etc.) to improve the quality of life for communities located adjacent to these institutions.

To learn more about Drexel University’s School of Public Health, visit their website and follow them @drexelpubhealth.

To learn more about LISC’s Healthy Communities Initiative, please contact David Ferris by email at dferris (at) Visit to learn more about LISC’s  Sustainable Communities Initiatives in West Philadelphia and Eastern North Philadelphia.

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