Sara Swanson

5HF to undergo year-long evaluation on their effectiveness

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Michigan Health Endowment Fund (The Health Fund) has contracted with the Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI) to evaluate the Five Healthy Towns Project.  The year-long evaluation is scheduled to be completed by October, 2018.

The 5 Healthy Towns Foundation is a tax-exempt private foundation governed by a volunteer board of directors. The foundation serves the populations included in the school districts of Chelsea, Dexter, Grass Lake, Manchester and Stockbridge. 5HF funds projects dedicated to creating a culture of wellness and sustainable improvements in health including the Manchester Wellness Center, Manchester Farmers Market, Run Manchester, Manchester Community Garden, SRSLY Manchester, Gazebo concerts and much more (including the Manchester Mirror’s Big Tree Search last summer).

The 5 Healthy Towns Project began in 2011 and is made up of five separate Community Wellness Coalitions. The coalitions of community volunteers examine health data specific to their community and develop wellness plans that address needs within their community. They present their annual plan to 5HF, guiding how 5HF funding will be used in their community. “We couldn’t think of any better way to engage people in living a healthful life than letting them determine how they’d go about it,” said Amy Heydlauff, CEO of 5HF.

MPHI brings a team of trained social scientists with particular expertise in coalitions and collective action. The evaluation design has two primary goals. The first is to analyze the role of 5HF and community coalitions have in increasing community wellness in Chelsea, Dexter, Grass Lake, Manchester and Stockbridge, Michigan. The second is to utilize the results, including the literature review and environmental scan, to develop recommendations for the Health Fund’s community health grantmaking strategy.

“We’ve watched with great interest the important work of 5HF and its partners,” said Health Fund Chief Operating Officer Terry Gardner. “We think there are valuable lessons that can inform our own understanding of community health.”


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