HICCup Announces Wellville Five and Greater Wellville!

Wellville Five Communities Selected for

Five-Year Health Challenge

Esther Dyson-backed nonprofit’s Way to Wellville will bring support from

national partners while generating new evidence about what produces better health

More than 40 communities invited to Greater Wellville network to

share innovative health improvement strategies


August 14, 2014 – Wellville, USA – After a nationwide search that drew 42 applications from 26 states, five communities have been selected to participate in the five-year Way to Wellville challenge. The announcement was made today by the challenge sponsor, HICCup (Health Initiative Coordinating Council, www.hiccup.co), a nonprofit founded by angel investor Esther Dyson to encourage new models and markets for the production of health.

The Wellville Five communities – Clatsop County, Oregon; Greater Muskegon, Michigan; Lake County, California; Niagara Falls, New York; and Spartanburg, South Carolina – will work with HICCup and a network of partners over the next five years to produce visible improvements in five measures of health and economic vitality. The communities will receive support in the areas of data and measurement, evidence-based health solutions, and innovative financing strategies. Rigorous evaluation will measure the impact of specific health initiatives, reinforced by a coordinated, community-wide approach, while generating new insights and market opportunities for producing health.

HICCup’s founder, CEO and four-person advisory board selected the Wellville Five from a highly competitive field, beginning with 42 community applications in May and culminating in site visits to 10 finalist communities in July and August. The group of five was selected based both on each community’s readiness for success and on the group’s diversity in geography, demographics, and lead organization. (See related blog post.)

  • Clatsop County, Oregon (population 37,301), led by Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization and partners, will focus on chemical dependency, mental health, access to primary care medical homes, employment, obesity and food access, prenatal education and care, and so-called time banking, which lets community members exchange services based on available time, skills and needs.
  • Greater Muskegon, Michigan (population 79,275), led by Public Health – Muskegon County, will address smoking, adult obesity, post-secondary education, and social/emotional support, by leveraging strong partnerships with the Rotary Club and others already collaborating in Muskegon’s “1 in 21” campaign to become the state’s healthiest county by 2021.
  • Lake County, California (population 63,983), led by North Coast Opportunities and partners, will integrate preventive and clinical health services to address obesity and other chronic physical health issues, substance abuse, and mental and emotional health, while creating new measures to support long-term sustainability and financing.
  • Niagara Falls, New York (population 49,722), led by Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative and partners, aims to improve the social determinants of health, such as transportation, housing and employment; shift culture through greater community engagement; and address teen pregnancy, childhood obesity and other chronic diseases by coordinating community services.
  • Spartanburg, South Carolina (population 37,238), led by the Mary Black Foundation and partners, will focus on access to care, obesity, kindergarten readiness, and community pride – often referred to as social capital – which is linked to health indicators and the capacity of communities to engage support for initiatives that improve those indicators.

Each of the Wellville Five communities has its own focus, as described above, but all of them, with HICCup’s encouragement, will also work to improve child nutrition, the overall food environment, local social conditions, and the local provision of preventive and chronic disease care.

The Journey Ahead

“We were looking for five extraordinary communities – and we found many more than that,” said Esther Dyson, HICCup founder. “This is encouraging because the idea is not just to make a measurable difference in five places, but to demonstrate how a comprehensive approach to health can work and be replicated in many other communities around the country.

“Over the next five years, five communities will lean in, with support from diverse stakeholders, citizens, partners and investors, as well as shared learning, to demonstrate the impact of multiple reinforcing health initiatives,” Dyson added. “We’ll be measuring everything to see what makes the greatest impact: from healthier school lunches and better housing, to early childhood education and economic development, to active social networks and workplace wellness.”

To kick off the five-year health challenge, Wellville community leaders will attend HICCup’s Next Step to Wellville conference, September 16 to 18 in Tampa, Florida. Next Step will introduce community leaders to one another and to innovators in health data, solutions, and financing to explore opportunities for partnerships. Click here.

“HICCup and its partners will support the Wellville communities in much the same way that a startup accelerator supports a promising business idea and leadership team,” said HICCup CEO Rick Brush. “In this case, the community is the startup – and the community’s product is health.

“Just like a business startup, the community sets its course, develops its plans, negotiates with suppliers, measures its impact, and changes course as appropriate,” Brush noted. “Along the way, we’ll connect Wellville communities with health and policy experts, solution providers, funders and investors – all with an interest in testing and financing innovative health strategies.”

Greater Wellville

HICCup also announced today that is creating a larger network of communities called Greater Wellville. The effort will allow the 40-plus communities that applied to the Way to Wellville challenge to participate in peer-learning and to engage the HICCup partner network in local opportunities.

In addition to the Wellville Five, five finalist communities that HICCup visited have been invited to participate in Greater Wellville: Clinton County, New York; Columbus/Bartholomew County, Indiana; Oxford County, Maine; Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Winona, Minnesota.

“During our site visits, each of these communities demonstrated strong commitment, outstanding collaboration, and best practices that many other places can learn from,” said Dyson. “We’ve asked them to help us lead the way in expanding interest in health and implementing what works around the country.”

The other communities invited to participate in Greater Wellville are:

  • Athens County, Ohio
  • Bangor, Maine
  • Billings, Montana
  • Boothbay Region, Maine
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Charlotte, Michigan
  • Cheshire County, New Hampshire
  • Garden City/Finney County, Kansas
  • High Point, North Carolina
  • Jackson, Tennessee
  • Kershaw County, South Carolina
  • Kissimmee, Florida
  • Klamath Falls, Oregon
  • La Crosse County, Wisconsin
  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Lawrence, Massachusetts
  • Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Marion, Ohio
  • Marshall, Minnesota
  • New Ulm, Minnesota
  • Perris, California
  • Sanilac County, Michigan
  • Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Starkville, Mississippi
  • Susquehanna Valley, Pennsylvania
  • Takoma Park-Silver Spring, Maryland
  • Tuscarawas County, Ohio
  • Union County, Ohio
  • Wenatchee Valley, Washington
  • Wilkes County, North Carolina
  • Yamhill County, Oregon

About HICCup

HICCup stands for Health Initiative Coordinating Council. It is a nonprofit supported since mid-2013 through charitable contributions from Esther Dyson, in-kind resources, and extensive field research and development among a growing group of guiding organizations, partners and communities. HICCup is fiscally sponsored by New Venture Fund (www.newventurefund.org). Additional partners, funders and collaborators are encouraged to visit www.HICCup.co and contact rick@hiccup.co.

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