Reinvestment Fund and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Name Canton, Ohio One of 50 Invest Health Cities - Mercy Medical Center

Reinvestment Fund and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Name Canton, Ohio One of 50 Invest Health Cities

Posted on: May 18, 2016

The city of Canton has been selected by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to take part in the new Invest Health initiative. Invest Health is aimed at transforming how leaders from mid-size American cities work together to help low-income communities thrive, with specific attention to community features that drive health such as access to safe and affordable housing, places to play and exercise, and quality jobs.

Canton was selected from more than 180 teams from 170 communities that applied to the initiative. Cities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000 were asked to form five-member teams including representatives from the public sector, community development, and an anchor institution, preferably academic or health-related.  The Canton team is comprised of representatives from the sectors of  healthcare, government, social services, education, and finance and will work collaboratively to find solutions to ensure equitable health outcomes for all residents of Canton, Ohio.   Team members include:  City of Canton, Canton City Schools, Mercy Medical Center, Stark County Foundation and Stark County Community Action Agency (SCCAA).

“The Canton Team is honored to participate in this innovative, exciting opportunity with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Reinvestment Fund to explore ways of improving the health outcomes of neighborhoods challenged by poverty, poor health, and lack of investment.  We pledge to optimize this learning opportunity and will share our findings with all those committed to making Canton a great place to live, work, and play, “said Thomas E. Cecconi, President and CEO, Mercy Medical Center.

Mid-size American cities face some of the nation’s deepest challenges with entrenched poverty, poor health and a lack of investment. But they also offer fertile ground for strategies that improve health and have the potential to boost local economies. The program has the potential to fundamentally transform the way Canton improves opportunities to live healthy lives by addressing the drivers of health including jobs, housing, education, community safety and environmental conditions.

“This is a great opportunity for the City of Canton, Mayor Thomas M. Bernabei said.  “We are grateful to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support those in our community who are most in need of these health and wellness services.”

“With a long history in community development finance, we are excited to help create a pipeline to channel capital into low-income communities through public and private investments,” said Amanda High, Chief of Strategic Initiatives at Reinvestment Fund. “Our goal is to transform how cities approach tough challenges, share lessons learned and spur creative collaboration.”

Over the next 18 months, Invest Health teams will take part in a vibrant learning community, have access to highly skilled faculty advisors and coaches who will guide their efforts toward improved health, and receive a $60,000 grant. Canton will also engage a broader group of local stakeholders to encourage local knowledge sharing.  Learning from the program will be synthesized and disseminated through several venues and the project’s website.

“Public officials, community developers, and many others have been working in low-income neighborhoods for years, but they haven’t always worked together,” said Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH, MBA, RWJF Vice President, Invest Health. “Invest Health aims to align their work and help neighborhoods thrive by intentionally incorporating health into community development.”

Project teams will travel to Philadelphia for a kick-off meeting on June 7th and will meet regularly to share lessons learned throughout the 18-month project.  A full list of awardees and more information is available at   




About The Reinvestment Fund

Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for change in low-income communities. We integrate data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. Using analytical and financial tools, we bring high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to the communities that need better access—creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productive lives. Learn more at


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at


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