Putting local data to work for healthier communities

The 500 Cities Data Challenge is a $1 million grant initiative that encourages communities to dig into the 500 Cities dataset and design innovative solutions that address social factors driving community health outcomes. The ideas generated through this grant competition are helping to build the foundation for better cross-sector collaboration to foster a broad  Culture of Health and guide other communities in how to use data more effectively.

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Meet the Grantees


The 500 Cities Data Challenge has selected 10 organizations to receive funding for projects that will improve community health outcomes using the 500 Cities dataset. Over the course of the next year, these grantees from across the country will leverage local health data to address many social factors that influence health, including air quality, affordable housing, climate change, noise pollution, and public transportation. 

The 500 Cities Data Challenge website will host each of these projects, serving as a comprehensive resource for others in the field who would like to use the dataset for similar approaches in their own communities. 

Get to know the grantees and their projects below and stay tuned for updates on the status of their important work. Be sure to follow #500CitiesChallenge on Twitter and share your own stories of using the 500 Cities dataset to advance health outcomes. 


Air Alliance Houston (Houston, TX)
Partners: Houston Parks Board, Link Houston, Lone Star Legal Aid, City of Houston Bureau of Pollution Control and Prevention, Houston Advanced Research Center
Assessing the potential public health impacts of a highway expansion project in Houston, TX.

La Clínica de La Raza, Inc. (East Oakland, CA)
Partner: 18 Reasons
Promoting healthier habits among immigrant populations in Oakland, CA through data-informed community outreach.

Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta (Atlanta, GA; Albany, GA; Columbus, GA; Savannah, GA)
Partners: Atlanta Regional Commission, Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement, Georgia Health Policy Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, United Way of Greater Atlanta, Georgia Global Health Alliance
Informing the design of policy interventions to address critical public health needs and strengthening community partnerships/collaborations to build healthier communities.

Connecticut Data Collaborative (Hartford, CT)
Partner: Liberal Arts Action Lab at Trinity College​​​​​​​
Analyzing how the lack of safe, affordable housing causes health disparities among the most disinvested neighborhoods in Hartford, CT and using evidence to advocate for meaningful policy change.

Elevate Energy (Chicago, IL)
Partners: Chicago Bungalow Association​​​​​​​
Assessing air quality disparities across low-income Chicago neighborhoods to inform policies and advocacy for hyperlocal targeted investments to improve energy efficiency and housing conditions, and health outcomes.

Louisiana Public Health Institute (New Orleans, LA; Kenner, LA)
Partner: Bike Easy, Complete Streets Coalition of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes​​​​​​​
Exploring how policy investments in transportation could impact health in the Greater New Orleans Region.

Michigan State University (Michigan)
Evaluating the relationship between public transportation and attainment of preventative health services among Michigan's elderly population.

Philadelphia Department of Public Health (Philadelphia, PA)
Leveraging innovative data analysis to better understand health disparities across Philadelphia, PA neighborhoods.

University of Alaska, Anchorage (National)
Understanding how the risk of environmental change impacts quality of life across the nation. 

University of California, Berkeley (National)    
Assessing the relationship between noise pollution and mental health, sleep quality, and hypertension across the nation.

More about the Challenge

The 500 Cities Data Challenge began with an open invitation to submit creative and brief letters or videos of interest. Organizations with the top ideas were invited to submit full proposals detailing the activities, budget, and anticipated impact of their projects. The applicants were judged on how their projects would meet the Challenge’s four primary selection criteria:

  • Thematic relevance of the proposed project, especially connections across sectors
  • Significance of the proposed project in terms of advancing the use of the data in communities
  • Innovativeness of the use of the 500 Cities data
  • Feasibility of the proposed project to be completed during the grant period

More about the 500 Cities Project

The 500 Cities Project is a joint initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RWJF, and the CDC Foundation that provides city- and census tract-level estimates for chronic disease risk factors, health outcomes, and clinical preventive service use for the largest 500 cities in the United States.