Mission Possible: Tackling The Social Determinants of Health

On March 31st, National Health Foundation closed the books on its 44th fiscal year. It was a fantastic, invigorating and informative year, and one that pushed the boundaries of our refreshed mission:

To improve the health of individuals and under-resourced communities by taking action on the social determinants of health.

In early 2016, after reflecting on the organization’s direction, we made the decision to update our mission to better reflect our programs, purpose and strategic approaches. While our shared vision of all people achieving their highest level of health has not changed, our new mission expresses an important shift in focus—we will understand and take action on “upstream” factors influencing health. This refined area of focus has helped us to clarify and articulate National Health Foundation’s overall strategy: we work within communities to tackle the built environment, housing, food access, and education through more “upstream” solutions.

As we closed the books on the 2016-2017 fiscal year, we also saw the need for refreshed visuals to match our reinvigorated programs, services and sense of purpose. And that is why today we are excited to share with you the launch of our new brand, including a new logo a new website and a new look. This transformation, however, is more than skin-deep; it goes to the heart and soul of what we do at National Health Foundation.

Research has demonstrated that one of the clearest determinants of health –and health disparities– is where people live. A person’s physical environment, employment opportunities, community safety, and access healthcare providers, (and more) all impact health and are local in nature. The largest health disparities emerge in neighborhoods experiencing poverty and in communities of color. These social determinants can help or hinder a person’s ability to make healthy decisions. People are not homeless; they experience homelessness. People suffering from diabetes may understand what they should be eating, but it does not matter if they cannot purchase fresh produce in their own neighborhood. Physical fitness might be a top priority for everyone, but crime and unlit parks might prevent that from happening. Health starts where people live, learn, work and play—and so that is where National Health Foundation is focusing its work.

This past fiscal year we found ourselves knee-deep in social determinants of health, working shoulder-to-shoulder with community members, and achieving some pretty amazing things:


  • Through National Health Foundation’s Health Academy program,
    • 3,000 South Los Angeles residents now have new fresh produce choices as a result of NHF Health Academy students conducting local markets makeovers.
    • 1,000 students now have a redesigned lunchroom that decreases wait times by five minutes and increases food program participation by almost 20% thanks to student program efforts.
    • 700 high school students have a new and more viable option for fresh water as a result of youth program leaders installing on-campus hydration stations.


  • Through National Health Foundation’s Pathway Recuperative Care and Bridge Housing programs,
    • 629 individuals experiencing homelessness moved into housing in 2016 (shelter, transitional housing, permanent housing, permanent supportive housing).
    • Hospitals and the healthcare system saved $34 million dollars in costs avoided.


  • Through National Health Foundation and partners’ BUILD Health LA Initiative:
    • 12,000 residents now have a new opportunity to access to affordable, fresh produce through the transformation of eight corner stores recently engaged in the COMPRA Foods Program (~1500 residents per store).
    • 312 hours of FREE physical activity classes are provided annually at Central Ave Jazz Park.


  • Through National Health Foundation’s school-based teen pregnancy prevention program,
    • 100% of participants remained in school during the program.
    • The percentage of participants using birth control (including abstinence) increased by over 30%, from 58% to 89% during the course of the program.
    • 100% of participants agree that it is “important for [them] to graduate high school, vocational, or trade school” and “get more education or training.
  • Through National Health Foundation’s pregnant and parenting teen program,
    • 97% of participants expressed a positive change in behavior, such as improving their eating and exercise habits.
    • The percentage of participants understanding postpartum depression increased from 72% to 90%.
    • 98% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that they have the ability to seek out services in their community.

We are proud to be working within communities to change lives by tackling entrenched barriers to health. Will you work with us?

#HousingIsHealth                 #EducationIsHealth                          #FoodIsHealth                      #BuiltEnvironmentIsHealth