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Healthy Communities in PA

The Healthy Communities in PA task force encourages healthy community design in Pennsylvania by combining expertise from the planning and health fields. Join the group at our next Orientation and Information Sharing call typically the fourth Tuesday of each month at 2:00 p.m.

The New Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, more information >>



What is the Healthy Communities in PA Task Force?

The Healthy Communities in PA Task Force combines the expertise of health and planning professionals to discuss the best ways to encourage healthy communities design implementation in Pennsylvania. The Healthy Communities in PA Task Force was created with the assistance of a CDC Partnerships in Community Health Planners4Health grant from the national American Planning Association (APA).


Healthy Communities in PA Vision
The Healthy Communities in PA task force envisions communities in all parts of Pennsylvania being built in a way that makes the healthy choice the easy choice for every resident.

Healthy Communities in PA Mission
The Healthy Communities in PA task force achieves its vision through volunteer efforts by planning and health advocates creating tools and resources to assist partners in promoting healthy community design. The tools and resources are created by working groups of task force topic experts collecting best practices needed by Pennsylvania’s healthy community design partners and to create new partners. The American Planning Association, Pennsylvania Chapter is committed to sharing these resources and facilitating discussion around healthy community design in Pennsylvania. 

How to get involved
The task force holds a regular telephone call, typically on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 2 p.m. to introduce new members and have general information sharing as outlined in this one page description. The task force forms topic based working groups to tackle projects which meet at the convenience of the members. Anyone wishing to further the implementation of healthy community design in Pennsylvania is encouraged to complete a short survey to help us get you in touch with the topics that interest you most, join the google group listserv or submit your information in the contact us section of our website with the request “Join Healthy Communities in PA.”

What is Healthy Community Design?

Healthy communities make the healthy choice the easy choice. Healthy community design advocates work to link the fields of health and planning to ensure that those designing the built environment consistently consider health outcomes and those seeking to improve public health consider the physical environment.

When the Healthy Communities in PA Task Force uses the term healthy community design, it is related to this perspective of linking health and planning by professionals and advocates. The healthy communities we are trying to enable through design has a much more inclusive definition that covers many different aspects. For more extensive background on healthy communities in the broader context of community consider the following resources:

“Healthy community design is about planning and designing communities to make it easier for people to live healthy lives. Healthy community design encourages mixed land uses to bring people closer to the places where they live, work, worship, and play. Doing so reduces dependence on cars and provides affordable housing, good bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, space for social gathering, and access to transit, parks, and healthy foods.”

-U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention




Healthy Community Design Resources

Resources by Topic

A variety of topic-based resources for a wide array of healthy community design topics are available here.

Articles produced by our working groups are available here for reprint in your organizational newsletters.

Adaptable presentations have been created to help you present information on healthy community design to a variety of audiences. See some formats here

A Venue Inclusion Checklist was created to help those planning events to institutionalize healthy, sustainable, and inclusive conferences, meetings, and public hearings. See checklist here.

Training Sessions

Videos and archived webinars on Healthy Community design can be found at https://www.youtube.com/user/AmericanPlanningAssn/search?query=health

Planning and the Opioid Epidemic Series is available for distance learning and viewing at https://www.planning.org/blog/blogpost/9141430/. This national webinar series was created to meet the need identified in our survey of County Planning Directors and is moderated by Healthy Communities in PA project manager Justin Dula.

Healthy Communities in PA day-long round table, held in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Interagency Health Equity Team on August 22, 2017, summary materials are available at http://bit.ly/2017-08-22HCiPA

In person or Pennsylvania specific healthy community design events are available on our website calendar and listed below.

APA Pennsylvania Annual Conference hosted a day long track on healthy communities sponsored by the Healthy Communities in PA group. See presentations and hand out material in the conference archive. Healthy community sessions were 1&2 during concurrent sessions B-E (e.g., B1, B2, C1, C2)

Working Groups

Healthy Aging Working Group

The Healthy Aging Working Group is currently putting together many resources and tools for urban and public health planners that will help communities become more supportive places for older adults to live. While we are gathering these materials, we would like to point you in the direction of one great place to start, the website for the World Health Organization and AARP’s Age-friendly Cities model. Communities nation-wide, and a handful in Pennsylvania, have embraced this model, which brings together urban planners, aging network advocates, city officials and more to help our communities become great places to grow up and get older. There is a short introduction to the age-friendly cities project to help you become familiar, which will be a three part series.

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) also has resources on age-friendly communities at http://www.dvrpc.org/aging/. Though some of these resources are specific to Southeastern Pennsylvania, many have applicability statewide.

We also invite you to join the Healthy Aging Working Group Google Group, which aims to share resources around the topic of healthy aging in Pennsylvania.    

Join Here


Healthy Food Access Working Group

The PA Healthy Food Access Working Group will strive to increase access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate foods among Pennsylvania residents, especially communities with limited access.  It will do this by researching and disseminating information on the state of healthy food access across Pennsylvania; developing case studies of innovative programs and practices happening within Pennsylvania communities; and promoting tools and resources to help communities and local leaders increase healthy food access.

Anyone wishing to join the Healthy Food Access Working Group can contact us as described in the or attend an orientation as described in the How to get involved section of the website.


Upcoming Webinars

Please let us know about upcoming opportunities by submitting them through the contact us section of our website with the request “Healthy Community Event.” 


In Person Events

Please send us upcoming events as contact us section of our website with the request “Healthy Community Event.”



Technical Assistance/Funding Opportunities

Please let us know about upcoming opportunities by submitting them through contact us section of our website with the request “Healthy Community Opportunity.”


Community Conservation Partnership Program Grants

More Information: https://www.brcgrants.dcnr.pa.gov/
Deadline: April 22, 2020

DCNR is accepting applications for its Community Conservation Partnerships Program grants. The 2020 grant application round opened January 15 and will close April 22. Funds can support projects such as:

  • Planning, acquisition, and development of public parks
  • Trail planning and construction
  • River conservation and access
  • Open space conservation
  • Streamside tree planting

Applicants should contact their Bureau of Recreation and Conservation Regional Advisor to discuss project ideas and application requirements prior to submitting. To apply for a grant, please use the DCNR Grants Customer Service Portal.

Food Recovery Infrastructure Grant

More Information: https://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Land/Waste/Recycling/Municipal-Resources/FinancialAssistance/Pages/default.aspx

Application deadline: April 24, 2020
Contact: mvottero@pa.gov, 717-787-7382

These grants of up to $200,000 provide assistance to eligible nonprofit organizations such as shelters and food banks for proper food management. “Access to fresh food in underserved communities is a public health and quality of life issue, but it’s also an environmental justice issue. While traveling across the state, my staff and I often hear from underserved communities that access to fresh food is a significant concern, so we wanted to do our part to address this issue in a meaningful, environmentally focused way,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. The grant application deadline is April 24, 2020.

Economic Impact Initiative Grants

More Information: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/economic-impact-initiative-grants

Economic Impact Initiative Grants provide funding to assist in the development of essential community facilities in rural communities that have extreme unemployment and severe economic depression.

An essential community facility is one that provides an essential service to the local community, is needed for the orderly development of the community, serves a primarily rural area, and does not include private, commercial, or business undertakings.

Examples of essential community facilities include:

  • Healthcare: hospitals, medical clinics, dental clinics, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities
  • Public Facilities: city/town/village halls, courthouses, airport hangers, street improvements
  • Community Support Services: child care centers, community centers, fairgrounds, transitional housing
  • and more

Public bodies, federally-recognized tribes, and nonprofit organizations in eligible rural areas may apply.

Eligible rural areas must meet specific criteria:

  • Cities, villages, townships, and federally-recognized tribal lands with no more than 20,000 residents
  • Unemployment rate for the service area is greater than 19.5%

Median household income of the service area is below 90% of the state non-metropolitan median household income

Presentation Opportunities


Please let us know about upcoming opportunities by submitting them through contact us section of our website with the request “Healthy Community Opportunity.”

2020 APA PA Conference in Scranton

This year’s conference will be in Scranton from October 18-20, with Healthy Communities activities focused on Monday, October 19. Please submit your proposal ideas for proposals by March 6 as outlined at https://planningpa.org/events-training/annual-conference/callforpresenters/.

Proposers are encouraged to submit traditional and non-traditional sessions, plus mobile workshops. Traditional sessions typically involve presentations and audience interaction with an expert panel. Non-traditional sessions can include problem-solving roundtables, “fast-fun-fervent” presentations, and peer-group sessions.