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The Wellmark Foundation’s funding efforts focus on improving the health of Iowa and South Dakota communities through prevention. Specifically, our funding seeks to facilitate programs targeting:

  • Childhood obesity prevention
  • Community-based wellness and prevention

Here are examples of projects we seek to support in the areas of childhood obesity prevention and community-based wellness and prevention. This is not an exhaustive list and is meant to stimulate community thinking and planning around what might be possible in your setting:

Increasing Access and Consumption of Nutritious Foods:  Limited access to nutritious food and relatively easier access to less nutritious foods may be linked to poor diets and obesity, particularly in youth.  Examples of projects in this area that could be supported could include the following:

Advancing nutrition immersion and locally sourced food solutions.  Community-based efforts to improve food access and dietary consumption of healthier foods across the lifespan (farmers’ markets, community gardens, promotion of culturally specific foods, local food production and promotion, youth agricultural and food preparation skills training programs in both urban and rural settings, and meaningful youth food-growing, preparing and consuming experiences via gardening/cooking efforts).  Initiatives of this nature can create experiential opportunities that can build lifelong dietary patterns.

Supporting connections between local food systems and health.  Advance the planning, work or implementation of local, multi-county or statewide food policy councils to positively impact food systems, specifically to address the interconnectivity between food and health.

Addressing food insecurity.  Efforts addressing the multiple strategies needed around food insecurity, identifying food deserts and developing appropriate hunger solutions and food assistance programs in communities needing greater access to and support for more nutritious foods.

Promoting obesity prevention solutions in school settings.  Projects to improve the food environment and dietary education in school settings (farm-to-school, competitive foods environment improvement, edible trails, advancing school wellness programs and policies, healthy vending, health literacy or curriculum enhancement projects to promote health knowledge or after school programs, etc.).

Promoting Active Living and Built Environment:  The built environment refers to human-made resources and infrastructure designed to support human activity, such as buildings, roads, parks and other amenities.  The characteristics of the built environment can affect the health of residents in multiple ways.  What follows is several potential examples of how communities can advance work in this area:

Promoting safe, accessible venues for physical activity in a community.  Support community planning and implementation efforts to encourage development of safe, accessible venues for physical activity.  This could also include joint-use agreements between schools and community groups to leverage investments and encourage shared spaces for physical activity.

Advancing active transportation concepts.  This refers to approaches that encourage individuals to actively travel between their destinations throughout the day, such as biking or walking.  Funding could be used to advance active transport approaches (implement Safe Routes to School projects, walking school buses, community walking audits, active-living workshops and other opportunities for civic engagement, community bicycle promotion or needed amenities that directly facilitate active transportation such as bicycle racks, bicycle lockers, etc.).

Promoting Complete Streets and trail development.  This could include interim acquisition of pocket parks and trail corridors, regional trail planning efforts, promoting pedestrian/bicycle/trail master plans, actual trail construction and development, incorporating Complete Streets policies and projects or restriping streets to add bicycle lanes or sidewalk connections.

Developing outreach and educational tools to explain principles and best practices of active living.  This could include social marketing campaigns, public service announcements, trail maps, signage to improve access/usage or trails, community active living guides and other materials to actually facilitate the adoption of active-living approaches to encourage physical activity and improved health.

Prevention is the global theme of the Foundation’s funding agenda. The Spectrum of Prevention outlined below is a systematic tool that promotes a multifaceted range of activities for effective prevention.

These project level definitions highlight that prevention goes beyond education and the individual. As you consider potential proposals, think about these distinctions. Grant support could take the form of planning grants, community-based program implementation, organizational capacity building, health policy advancement, or a combination of these.

Level of Project Definition of Level
1. Strengthening individual knowledge and skills Enhancing an individual's capability of preventing injury or illness and promoting safety
2. Promoting community education Reaching groups of people with information and resources to promote health and safety
3. Educating providers Informing providers who will transmit skills and knowledge to others (public)
4. Fostering coalitions and networks Bringing together groups and individuals for broader goals and greater impact
5. Changing organizational practices Adopting regulations and shaping norms to improve health and safety
6. Influencing policy and legislation Developing strategies to change laws and policies to influence outcomes

The Spectrum of Prevention is a Prevention Institute tool originally developed by Larry Cohen in 1983 while working as director of Prevention Programs at the Contra Costa California County Health Department. It is based upon the work of Dr. Marshall Swift in preventing developmental disabilities. More information is available at the Prevention Institute.

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