Back to school. Asian mother and daughter pupil girl with backpack holding hand and going to school together

Transforming neighborhoods to improve health and wellbeing.

Community development facilitates neighborhood change that enables residents to thrive.

Everyone has dreams for themselves and their families, but not everyone has the same opportunities to make these dreams come true. Laws, social practices, and their historical legacy have led some communities to have fewer opportunities than others for jobs, education, lending, and housing. Racial disparities in community conditions and in health, in particular, persist across the United States. But since people created the policies and practices that shape these conditions, we can reinvent them by working together. 

Community development is the work of building healthy places with neighborhood assets that help residents reach their best health and wellbeing—including affordable housing, community facilities for early childhood and health services, local businesses and cultural institutions, and parks and open spaces. The community development sector mobilizes and invests more than $200 billion in public and private resources to improve the quality of life in communities that historically have been excluded from opportunity.

Through our grants and impact investments, we seek to ensure that community development capital flows to the places that have been the most neglected by investment, and that financing and development decisions center the priorities and solutions of local residents and safeguard against any unintended consequences, such as displacement. 

The community development finance system (infographic)—made up of mission-driven lenders (infographic) that include banks, credit unions, loan funds, and municipal finance agencies, among others—is the main driver of capital for communities that historically have experienced a lack of investment, especially communities of color and communities with low incomes.

Featured Initiatives

RWJF funds many initiatives in support of our vision for a Culture of Health. For this area of focus, these initiatives were selected to demonstrate grantmaking that is helping us achieve the greatest impact.  

A daycare teacher playing with a group of young children outside.

Purpose Built Communities

Street view of a row of houses.

Center for Community Investment

Conservation Law Foundation/Healthy Neighborhoods Study

A woman riding a bus with a clipboard on her lap.


Iola, KS - August 1, 2017 - Members of THRIVE Allen County, construction staff, and and community officials discuss plans for a new grocery store in downtown Iola.

Build Healthy Places Network

Community organizers talk while touring a neighborhood.

Third Space Action Lab

August 29-31, 2016

Neighborhood pictures in Little Havana area of Miami. These are shot on "Calle Ocho" (8th Street), the main cultural area of Little Havana's Cuban culture.

Invest Health

Impact Investments Case Studies

Resources for Grantees

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