Affordable Care Act funding to improve health in communities nationwide, which can lower healthcare costs

YMCA of the USA was awarded a Federal grant of $6.5 million over the course of five years, contingent upon annual federal appropriations, to advance policy, environmental, programmatic and infrastructure strategies related to active living and healthy eating, tobacco-free living, clinical and other preventive services, social and emotional wellness, and healthy and safe physical environments, with a focus on serving African-American and Hispanics/Latinos nationwide.

This grant is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Transformation Grants (CTG) program to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities, and lower health care costs.

The CTG program is focused on implementing evidence-based strategies in five areas:

  1. tobacco-free living;
  2. active living and healthy eating;
  3. evidence-based quality clinical and other preventive services, specifically prevention and control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol;
  4. social and emotional wellness, such as facilitating early identification of mental health needs and access to quality services, especially for people with chronic conditions; and
  5. healthy and safe physical environments. By promoting healthy lifestyles and communities, especially among population groups experiencing the greatest burden of chronic disease, CTGs will help improve health, reduce health disparities and lower health care costs.

YMCA of the USA, the national resource office of the Y – a leading nonprofit for strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility – is one of seven national networks of community-based organizations that are receiving awards for the National Dissemination and Support Initiative of the CTG program. These funded organizations will help support, disseminate and amplify the evidence-based strategies of the CTG program in communities nationwide, including in rural and frontier areas and in those areas with health disparities.

There are two types of awards for organizations under this initiative – Dissemination and Acceleration:

  • Dissemination awards will support, disseminate, and amplify the evidence-based strategies of the CTG program nationally. Funded organizations will engage and collaborate with governmental, private, and non-governmental sectors and work to disseminate CTG strategies within their national network of local affiliates, including reaching rural and frontier areas and those experiencing health disparities.
  • Acceleration awards are intended to help spread CTG work across the country and in particular to help reach rural and frontier areas and areas with health disparities. Funded organizations will be awarding at least 50% of their funds to local affiliates to support local communities to assess and address CTG health priorities.

Specifically, YMCA of the USA will expand the work of its Healthier Communities Initiatives which bring together community leaders to create policy, system and environmental changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice.  The Y has convened about 200 community leadership teams with the support of the CDC’s Healthy Communities Program and other foundation supporters.

To date, communities involved in these initiatives have reported that they have influenced a collective 14,500 strategies nationwide that help people increase their physical activity, eat healthier and reduce their exposure to tobacco smoke, including:

  • Helping families put nutritious food on the table by bringing farmers markets with fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods where healthy food options are scarce;
  • Giving parents peace of mind when they let their kids walk to school by creating safer routes;
  • Making roads safer for all users whether they walk, bike or drive;
  • Helping people to breath air free of smoke by enacting smoke-free ordinances; and
  • Keeping a generation of kids healthier by working with schools to increase physical education and physical activity during the school day

To learn more about the Y’s Healthier Communities Initiatives, visit To learn more about Community Transformation Grants, visit

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