City, partners earn national recognition for efforts to improve health in Minneapolis

The City of Minneapolis and its many partners’ efforts to reduce obesity and tobacco use, prevent chronic disease, make Minneapolis the best biking city in the country, and improve educational achievement on the Northside has earned national recognition from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care.

Minneapolis is one of six inaugural winners of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) “Roadmaps to Health” prize. The prize honors outstanding community partnerships across the United States which are helping residents live healthier lives. The City received a cash prize of $25,000 in recognition of its efforts and was honored on Wednesday at an event held at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey.

Minneapolis was chosen to receive this award for many of its successful efforts to improve overall health in the city.

Reducing obesity and tobacco use

Since 2009, the City and its dozens of partners were part of SHIP Minneapolis (now called Healthy Living Minneapolis). This effort was a collection of projects intended to improve access to healthy foods and increase opportunities for physical activity and smoke-free living. With a two-year grant from the Minnesota Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and Community Transformation grant federal funding, the City and its partners created healthier environments in more than 225 settings and helped institute a new smoke-free building policy at Riverside Plaza, home to more than 5,000 residents.

The City also instituted many programs and policies to increase access to healthy food. The City’s health department created the Healthy Corner Store program to increase the variety, quality and affordability of fruits and vegetables at 37 convenience stores. Some stores saw produce sales increase by as much as 70 percent. Through Homegrown Minneapolis, the City improved and increased opportunities for growing healthy food by creating the Urban Agriculture Plan and making it easier for groups to create community gardens.

Connecting clinics and communities to prevent chronic disease

The Minneapolis Health Department joined with community and clinic partners to improve patient care at selected clinics affecting 60,000 patients. The goals of these partnerships were to:

This collaborative effort continues to coordinate and mobilize heath care and community stakeholders to improve the clinical care that is provided to thousands of city residents.

Making Minneapolis the most bikeable city

Minneapolis has become one of the highest ranked biking and walking cities in the country, through infrastructure improvements, making biking and walking resources more available and affordable, and creating a culture where biking and walking are the norm.

The city’s biking and walking infrastructure now totals 167 miles of bikeways and 1,800 miles of sidewalks in Minneapolis. In 2011 alone, 35 miles of streets were upgraded to bikeway status, bringing the number of miles of on-street bikeways to from 45 to 80. Biking and walking resources have also become more available and affordable through such initiatives as the Nice Ride bike share program, and the Midtown Bike Walk Center and the Venture North Bike Walk Coffee Shop, which serve residents in low-income neighborhoods. Many of these accomplishments are the result of the City of Minneapolis, Transit for Livable Communities, local non-profits, residents and bike advocates working together to make Minneapolis one of the best biking cities in the country.

Closing the education achievement gap

The Northside Achievement Zone works with more than 50 organizations, including the City of Minneapolis, to improve educational outcomes and build a culture of achievement in north Minneapolis to ensure that all youth are college ready after graduating from high school. The program started in 2010 and moves families through a “cradle to college to career” pipeline. The initial goal of the Northside Achievement Zone was to enroll 150 families in the program, and to date, 166 families with 450 children have enrolled. Another 144 children families are expected to enroll by the end of this year.

About the “Roadmaps to Health” award

Minneapolis was among six communities selected for the award from more than 160 applications. The other winning communities are Santa Cruz County, Calif; New Orleans; Cambridge, Mass.; Fall River, Mass.; Manistique, Mich. For more information about the RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize and a video profile of Minneapolis visit

The RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize is part of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program. In 2009, RWJF partnered with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute to create the County Health Rankings. The Rankings serve as an easy-to-use health snapshot of the many factors that influence health, and help community leaders identify areas where improvement is needed. The County Health Roadmaps project supports communities working together to make progress on those factors. Find out more at

Published Feb 21, 2013



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