Redstone Center Initiative Draws $1.6 Million to Build Resilience, Counter Childhood & Community Adversity for Better Health

WASHINGTON, DC (June 15, 2017)The Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at George Washington University today announced that the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness recently received an $800,000 grant from The Kresge Foundation for its Building Community Resilience (BCR) initiative. This grant matches an $800,000 grant awarded last year from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) to support BCR work through the Nemours Foundation. BCR addresses the root causes of adversity to improve children’s health and life outcomes by aligning resources and systems to strengthen community resilience, including pediatric health care and local governments. Currently, the initiative consists of five pilot sites across the country, which serve as a learning collaborative through which best practices are developed and shared.

The Kresge Foundation grant was awarded to advance a new partnership between BCR and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), which will initiate and develop partnerships with local health departments to support child, family and community health. The academic home of the BCR initiative is at the Redstone Center, while the activities take place at the five sites across the country: Cincinnati, OH, Dallas, TX, Portland, OR, Wilmington, DE, and Washington, DC.

”The BCR initiative is taking an innovative and collaborative approach to closing the gap between clinical care and community-based resources for children who have experienced trauma,” said Katie Byerly, The Kresge Foundation’s Health Philanthropy fellow. “By working in local communities and engaging local public health departments in the network of resources, BCR’s work will serve as a model for how to address some of the most upstream determinants of health.” 

BCR was developed by Wendy Ellis, MPH, Milken Institute SPH doctoral candidate and Michael and Lori Milken Public Health Scholar. Ellis was also recently selected as a fellow in the 2017 Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Wellbeing program through DDCF to support her dissertation research related to BCR. The new matching award from Kresge – in addition to funding through the Milken Scholar program – brings the total funding for BCR to more than $1.6 million.

The BCR initiative views community and individual resilience, or the ability to “bounce back,” as essential to preventing and mitigating negative health effects that result from exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) – including abuse, neglect, parental depression, addiction, and divorce. ACEs are amplified when children and families live in adverse community environments (the other type of ACEs), including those lacking affordable housing and job opportunities, or experiencing community violence or racism. Together, such child and community adversity are the ‘Pair of ACEs,’ as described by Ellis and William Dietz, MD, PhD, principal investigator on the Kresge BCR work and Chair of the Redstone Center. A rich literature documents the public health impact of exposure to adversity, including higher rates of heart disease, obesity, depression and other chronic illness.

“The aim of Building Community Resilience is to allow children, families and communities to not only bounce back, but to bounce forward,” says Ellis. “At our BCR test sites, we are seeing community members, policymakers, representatives of large systems all coming to the table. They’re using the BCR framework, tools, data sharing platform, and collaborative forum to create homegrown resilience and driving real systemic change.”

The novel BCR framework facilitates collaboration across different sectors to enable a network of resilience. Through application of this framework, community partnerships have evolved to include not only clinical health systems and local governments, but also public school systems, parenting support services, universities, and social services providers.

“Large-scale prevention and mitigation of chronic disease will only be possible through alignment of our major systems with the needs and desires of the communities they impact and are meant to serve” says Dietz. “BCR facilitates that work and what we have already learned from the collaborative has been remarkable.”

BCR was launched through Moving Health Care Upstream (MHCU), a joint project of the Nemours Foundation and the University of California – Los Angeles. MHCU was also funded by The Kresge Foundation.