Richmond, VA COH 2017. Richmond, VA COH 2017. Daniel Robleso (right) and Jaquelin Robleso (left) tag along as thier mother Paola Morales shops at a "Mobile Market". These are portable grocery stores Shalom Farms runs in an attempt to give equal access to healthy and affordable food in areas of poverty.


Equitable community development can foster health and racial equity.

Community development is the work of building healthy places with housing that is affordable, good jobs with fair pay, clean water, and transit services that support wellbeing and foster good health.

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 health and community conditions, 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

Ideally, community development facilitates change that is driven by residents, building on local assets and solutions to meet the community’s needs. Community development that fosters health and equity in neighborhoods and places that historically have been structurally excluded from public and private investment—with residents leading change—is key to improving physical, economic, and social community conditions to enable all residents to reach their best possible health and wellbeing.

This includes developing influential partnerships and shared decisionmaking that supports substantive, long-term collective action and efforts motivating financial investment in communities that need it the most while safeguarding against unintended consequences such as displacement through gentrification.

Community Development Finance

The existing community development finance system is the main driver of capital into communities with low incomes. It requires adequate supply of capital, diverse financial products, and community-led decisionmaking to effectively serve the priorities of communities that historically have experienced a lack of investment, especially communities with low incomes and communities of color.

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.  

Purpose Built Communities

Single family homes line Beachwood Ave. in 24:1 community Pine Lawn. The homes, built by Beyond Housing, replaced dilapidated properties and offered affordable housing starting in 2012.

Center for Community Investment

Conservation Law Foundation/Healthy Neighborhoods Study

A woman riding in 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 meet to tour neighborhoods together.

Third Space Action Lab