case study

Identifying and Pursing Effective and Achievable Policy Solutions for Our Nation’s Largest Cities


The Challenge 

CityHealth is an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente. It was founded in 2014 by the de Beaumont Foundation “to identify and pursue the most effective and achievable local policy solutions” that could make healthier communities. This policy charge would be renewed every five years to make sure that CityHealth was on the cusp of the needed local policy that would bring the most benefit to cities across the country. In 2020, CityHealth brought its policy advisory committee back together to reevaluate its original policy package and developed the 2.0 policy package. Our challenge was to support the transition from the nine-policy original package that the nation’s 40 largest cities were familiar with and had been striving toward for the past five years to a new 12 policy package for the nation’s 75 largest cities.

Our Approach 

Over the transition year, we focused on education and emphasizing the opportunity. We created new policy package pages on the website: each policy received its own page with details, paired with blogs that we drafted for the Co-Executive Directors to post monthly on each individual policy. We promoted much of this content through organic social and digital ads on Twitter, Facebook and Google. We also worked on the releases of three policy reports on earned sick leave, housing (which reflected three of the new policies on housing) and flavored tobacco that provided an even deeper dive into these new policies. The flavored tobacco and housing report releases had corresponding city leader webinars that allowed for city leaders to hear from one or a few of their own on how they are implementing policy and navigating roadblocks.  

We knew this transition was going to be hardest for the cities that were already familiar with CityHealth and that had done well with the previous policy package (92.5% of the original 40 cities had received an overall medal in the final assessment, including 10 gold medals), so the messaging we helped to refine for staff to use focused on the opportunity this new policy package presented—an opportunity for city leadership to achieve their next gold medal and expand their adoption of health-promoting policies that are timely and needed in the context of where they are as a city today. We used the example of Tobacco 21, which was a part of the first policy package and was a policy that gained traction in cities and states in the beginning but became federal law in 2019. This showed the type of policy shifts that could happen in five years and illustrated the purpose of CityHealth’s policy package approach.   

We also emphasized that while the policy package was getting larger, six of the policies were familiar —only their criteria were changing. 

Results and Impact

Throughout the year, of the top 20 destinations on the CityHealth website, 60% were specific to learning about the 2.0 policy package—either a policy blog, a policy page or report —and 30% were general CityHealth/About Us pages. After a year of communicating the shift, on December 21, the first assessment on the 2.0 policy package in 75 cities was released and we continue to support the release via social media to support understanding and ongoing education of CityHealth’s work.  

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