Building Better Programs to Improve Youth Health

a group of college age people strolling down a street
Thousands of urban and disadvantaged youth in the U.S. participate in community-based programs that influence their health and well-being. With the goal of optimizing the positive impact of these programs, the Institute for Integrative Health convened a forum in February, to envision a new, integrative approach to community program development and evaluation.

The Forum's Opening Video

The Building Bridges, Defining Metrics forum brought together more than 40 professionals from across the country—including leaders in research, community programming, government, school administration, and philanthropic funding—for two days of highly interactive meetings. Designed to foster connections and dialogue across a variety of sectors, the forum examined the challenges of balancing diverse stakeholder priorities and measuring outcomes in real-world settings.

Anthony Iton, MD, JD, MPH, Senior Vice President of Healthy Communities at the California Endowment, was the forum’s keynote speaker. In a powerful presentation, he discussed the profound impact of social inequities on the health of communities, noting that the ratio of social spending to health spending is significantly associated with better health outcomes.

In breakout sessions, participants identified obstacles and indicators of success and explored strategies for engaging policymakers, busting silos among program partners, and encouraging cross-sector collaborations.

The forum’s second day was dedicated to the topic of defining meaningful metrics for evaluating community programs. A discussion panel on innovative measurement and evaluation models included:

  • David L. DuBois, PhD, from the University of Illinois at Chicago Institute for Health Research and Policy
  • Institute for Integrative Health Scholar Steven H Woolf, MD, MPH, from the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health
  • Carley Riley, MD, MPP, MPH, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who is conducting evaluation efforts for the 100 Million Healthier Lives Initiative, and
  • Carolyn E. Miller, MA, MS, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
  • The panel was moderated by Institute Scholar Kurt Stange, PhD of Case Western Reserve University.

Building Bridges, Defining Metrics concluded with an interactive session to identify which elements are most critical to  establishing a new framework for community-based programs that improve youth health. An analysis and summary of those recommendations will be part of a report the Institute will publish this summer. 

Download the report.

Learn more about the forum.