Powering Healthy Lives

Narrowing the Life Expectancy Gap through People, Place, & Power

Powering Healthy 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. Call for Ideas closed on November 16that 3PM EST. Powering Healthy Lives applicants will be notified of their status on December 18th. Full applications are due to USALEEP@urban.org on or before February 22nd by 2PM EST. (Full application materials will be provided directly to those invited to the next stage of Powering Healthy Lives)

To promote health equity and better life outcomes across people, place, and power, this $1 million grant initiative seeks to support community changemakers and leaders to use United States Small-Area Life Expectancy Project (USALEEP) data to advance innovative solutions from across sectors that intersect with health outcomes– such as education, transportation, criminal justice, housing, urban planning and other sectors.

Powering Healthy Lives will fund projects that use the USALEEP dataset with interdisciplinary approaches that seek to address health disparities, narrow the life expectancy gap, and promote health equity and social justice. As such, this grant initiative will support projects that demonstrate strong alignment with at least one of the priority areas of people, place, and power.

An Open Invitation

This is an open funding opportunity. We welcome submissions from any organization interested in putting local data to work for healthier, more equitable communities, such as community organizers, nonprofits, local government agencies, public schools, researchers, service providers, and others. Universities are ineligible to apply as lead applicants but they can serve as a partner to eligible applicants.

To ensure that the funding opportunity is open and equitable to all, Powering Healthy Lives will follow a two-stage process:

Stage 1: This funding opportunity begins with an open invitation to submit ideas. Ideas may be submitted by either a brief written letter or video. Only the content of the proposed idea will be considered; videos and letters will not be judged for production value. (For more information, please see LOI Submission Guidelines.)

Stage 2: Top ideas will be invited to submit full proposals detailing the activities, budget, and impact of their projects. Funding will be available for up to 6-10 projects. The total amount awarded and the number of awards will depend on the quality of the applications received.

Application and Award Process

The timeline below highlights key dates for Powering Healthy Lives:

  • 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

Priority Areas

Applicants are asked to submit proposals that fall under one of the following three priority areas.


This funding opportunity seeks to support projects informed by the expertise of communities who have systematically experienced social or economic barriers to health – based on race, ethnicity, religion, class, immigration status, gender, age, or mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.

Powering Healthy Lives seeks projects led by individuals who have lived experience, or have significant credibility and longstanding relationships with these communities. Identified communities include but are not limited to:

  • People of color
  • Low-income communities
  • Refugees
  • People with physical or mental disabilities
  • Immigrants
  • Women
  • Youth
  • Rural communities
  • LGBTQ+ persons
  • Native Communities such as American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities.

Projects that select this priority area will have to demonstrate how the expertise of communities who have endured historical and ongoing marginalization is reflected in ways such as:

  • the key leadership of both the staff and board of the organization.
  • the design, delivery, impact, and evaluation of the project outcomes.

We know that not everyone has the same opportunity to be healthy where they live, especially across race and place. This funding opportunity seeks to support projects led by organizations in regions facing some of the worst health disparities using USALEEP data to better understand their local assets and challenges, grounded in deep knowledge of the community.

Powering Healthy Lives seeks to fund projects currently located in and serving communities facing some of the worst health disparities. While this is not meant to be an exclusionary list, this funding opportunity currently seeks to fund projects in the below priority areas:

  • Appalachia
  • Mississippi Delta
  • Southeast
  • Southwest
  • Plains Region (Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming)
  • Native American and Indigenous Territories
  • Note: We welcome other rural regions to apply not explicitly listed here.

Please note: USALEEP data is currently not available for Wisconsin or Maine. Please see the Map of USALEEP Data Availability in Key Materials for a geographic visualization of where the USALEEP data is available (~90% of US census tracts).


This funding opportunity will support projects that are committed to building power in communities by advancing equity in changing policies, laws, systems, environments, and practices to address inequities that impact health outcomes. This includes efforts to use the USALEEP data to empower local stakeholders to hold institutions and policymakers accountable for providing equitable access to resources essential for health.

Powering Healthy Lives seeks to support projects with power building strategies including but not limited to:

  • Advocacy and capacity-building efforts
  • Community organizing
  • Coalition building and collaboration
  • Narrative change and media advocacy campaigns
  • Policy innovation that challenges the status quo
  • Organizational structures and approaches that shift traditional power structures (e.g. cooperative ownership)

Selection Criteria

All projects will be required to demonstrate how they will incorporate USALEEP data into an approach to address the social determinants of health and equity to improve life and health outcomes. Powering Healthy Lives seeks to fund projects that:

  • Demonstrate strong alignment with at least one of the priority areas of people, place, and power;
  • Centralizes the use of USALEEP data as a core project component;
  • Incorporates insights from fields that intersect with health outcomes outside of the traditional health sector (e.g., criminal justice, transportation, education);
  • Are Community-driven;
  • and Evidence-informed.

See scoring rubric for how these selection criteria will be evaluated.

Information for Applicants

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

  • 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 Powering Healthy Lives.



Please refer to the below for other special considerations:

  • Grants will start June 1, 2019 and continue up to one year, ending by May 31, 2020.
  • During the Full Proposal stage, applicants will be asked to provide detailed budgetary information for their project.
  • Funding will be available for 6-10 projects with the combined total awards not to exceed $1,000,000. The total amount awarded and the number of awards will depend on the quality of the applications received.
  • All materials, reports, and results produced through the grant initiative will be made available for dissemination to the public. Resulting data visualizations and projects should be developed with Open Source Software and made available to the public.
  • The Urban Institute will execute, administer, and manage all subgrant agreements with the lead organization submitting the application. Subgrants will be cost reimbursement agreements with payment made via regular disbursements throughout the project, the first issued upon full execution.
  • For projects with a human subjects research component, applicants must comply with the standards and criteria set forth in United States Department of Health and Human Services policy for the protection of human research subjects (45 C.F.R. Part 46 and related guidance); to this end, applicants must demonstrate the ability to undergo a review with an Institutional Review Board (IRB), either internally or through a contracted agency.
  • Applicants may apply for Visualizing Healthy Lives or Powering Healthy Lives but not both.
  • Urban Institute staff are ineligible to apply or participate in this funding opportunity in any capacity, to include applying in partnership with other eligible applicants.
  • Applicants must be willing to grant RWJF and Urban a paid up, non-exclusive, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide royalty-free license to reproduce, publish, republish, summarize, excerpt or otherwise use, and license others to use in print or electronic form (in whole, or in part, including in connection with derivative works), including in electronic databases or in any future form not yet discovered or implemented, the work produced from this project.