Visualizing and Powering Healthy Lives

Using Local Data to Narrow the Life Expectancy Gap

The Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have partnered to launch two $1 million funding opportunities – Visualizing Healthy Lives and Powering Healthy Lives – that leverage life expectancy data to explore how communities can address disparities in health and ensure that everyone has a fair and just opportunity for a long life.

Everyone deserves fair and just opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives. The newly released United States Small-Area Life Expectancy Project (USALEEP) dataset —a census tract-level dataset on life expectancy at birth— shows that people just a few miles apart may face vastly different opportunities for a long life. These new data can help pinpoint geographic disparities in life expectancy and initiate a conversation that leads to action.

The factors that most affect the health of our communities often lie outside of what may be traditionally seen as “health.” These factors often affect people differently – depending on their racial identity, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or geographic location. Reducing and ultimately eliminating differences in health outcomes and ensuring no one is denied the opportunity for a long and healthy life can also be known as health equity.

To promote health equity and better life outcomes, these two $1 million grant initiatives encourage community changemakers and leaders to use USALEEP data to advance innovative data visualizations and solutions.

Call for Ideas for both challenges closed on November 16th at 3PM EST.  All applicants will be notified of their status on December 18th.  Full applications are due to on or before February 22nd by 2PM EST.  (Full application materials will be provided directly to those invited to the next stage of these grant initiatives)

Visualizing Healthy Lives Powering Healthy Lives

Visualizing Healthy Lives is a $1 million grant initiative that will select 3-5 projects committed to narrowing the gaps in life expectancy by effectively and powerfully visualizing USALEEP data for a wider audience.

Powering Health Lives is a $1 million grant initiative that will select 6-10 projects interested in narrowing the gaps in life expectancy by putting local data to work for healthier, more equitable communities.

Please note that applicants can apply to either Visualizing Healthy Lives or Powering Healthy Lives, but not both.

Application and Award Process

The timeline below highlights key dates for both challenges:

  • September 17, 2018: Call for Ideas Opens
  • October 23, 2018: Call for Ideas Informational Webinar
  • November 16, 2018: Idea Submissions Due by 3PM EST
  • December 18, 2018: Top Ideas Invited to Submit Full Proposals
  • January 23, 2019: Full Proposal Informational Webinar at 3PM EST
  • February 22, 2019: Full Proposals Due by 2PM EST
  • March 25, 2019: Grantees Notified of Selection

Information for Applicants

SUPPORT AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE: Support and technical assistance is available from the Urban Institute throughout the data challenge, including webinars and feedback from the Challenge Team.

  • For more information about both funding opportunities and the USALEEP data set, please see a recording of the Bringing Local Data to Life: Using New Life Expectancy Data to Spark Change webinar on October 16th at 1PM EST.
  • For an in-depth overview of both funding opportunities (including eligibility, selection criteria, and application process), please view this recording of the Visualizing and Powering Healthy Lives: Call for Ideas Informational Webinar held on October 23rd at 3 PM EST.

KEY MATERIALS: Please explore the following materials for more information on the Visualizing Healthy Lives and Powering Health Lives:

Visualizing Healthy Lives Powering Healthy Lives Other Materials

Sign up for the funding opportunity listserv to stay up to date, or email if you have any additional questions.


The United States Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project (USALEEP) is a partnership that began in 2016 between the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

USALEEP calculates life expectancy at birth (LEB) estimates for every census tract in the United States using a consistent, reliable methodology that allows for an in-depth examination of life expectancy for diverse population sizes.

To learn more about USALEEP, please see this informative one-pager.


The 500 Cities Data Challenge, a partnership between the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a $1 million dollar grant initiative, selected 10 organizations to receive funding for projects that will improve community health outcomes using the 500 Cities dataset. Over the course of the next year, these grantees from across the country will leverage local health data to address many social factors that influence health, including air quality, affordable housing, climate change, noise pollution, and public transportation.

Get to know the grantees and their projects below and stay tuned for updates on the status of their important work. Be sure to follow #500CitiesChallenge on Twitter and share your own stories of using the 500 Cities dataset to advance better health outcomes.