Data Visualization for Better Life Outcomes

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. Call for Ideas closed on November 16that 3PM EST. Visualizing Healthy Lives 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 Visualizing Healthy Lives)

This $1 million funding opportunity seeks to support data visualizations that jumpstart conversations about the causes of life expectancy disparities and how communities can address these disparities more effectively. This grant initiative is calling upon data visualization specialists to create powerful and understandable visualizations of the United States Small-Area Life Expectancy Project (USALEEP) data in order to effectively communicate the data to a wider audience and promote a shared vision of better health for all.

Visualizing Healthy Lives welcomes submissions from eligible organizations interested in using USALEEP data to develop visualizations that advance effective calls to action, foster stronger collaborations, and support greater understanding of factors that potentially affect how well and how long we live, such as access to safe and affordable housing, educational opportunities, and health care.

An Open Invitation

This is an open funding opportunity. We welcome submissions from any organization interested in exploring disparities in life expectancy across communities. Eligible organizations include but are not limited to community changemakers, nonprofit practitioners, local government offices, researchers, data analytic companies, service providers, journalists, and graphic designers. Visualizing Healthy Lives seeks to fund teams with data visualization expertise that can create understandable and powerful visualizations of the USALEEP data that will lead to action. 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, Visualizing Healthy Lives will follow a two-stage process:

Stage 1: This funding opportunity begins with an open invitation to submit brief letters of interest and optional sketches that illustrate the proposed visualization. Applicants are encouraged to be creative in how they present their ideas in this first stage. (For more information, please see LOI Submission Guidelines.)

Stage 2: The top applicants will be invited to submit full proposals detailing the activities, budget, and impact of their projects.

Application and Award Process

The timeline below highlights key dates for Visualizing 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

Applicants are asked to submit data visualization project ideas that expand on conversations currently in communities around health and factors that shape health such as access to reliable transportation, safe and affordable housing, quality education, and economic opportunity. Projects should fall under one of the two data visualization categories below:

Exploratory Visualizations Explanatory Visualizations

Projects that help a target audience (e.g. community organizations or key decision makers) answer specific questions, solve specific problems or explore the depth of the USALEEP data. 

Sample Projects:

Projects that include an analysis of USALEEP data. Many such analyses may require USALEEP data to be combined with or compared to another external dataset to show how other factors influence life expectancy disparities; however, this is not required as long as some reference to current conversations exist in the proposal (whether those references be quantitative data, qualitative data, or part of a narrative discussion).

Sample Projects:

Selection Criteria

Ideas will be evaluated based on several factors, including the following:

  • Proposed projects must identify the target audience of the data visualization and explain what they are hoping to accomplish with the visualization. Projects should target an audience of community changemakers, community organizations, service providers, or other important actors that may not have the necessary time or resources to produce data visualizations of their own. We especially encourage audiences outside of the health sector to apply, and the data visualization should enable target audiences to improve their work, advocacy or service delivery.
  • Proposals are encouraged to incorporate insights from diverse fields outside of public health and health care to present a meaningful representation of the USALEEP data and its implications for health equity.
  • While customizable data tools are welcome, we expect the visualizers to not be fully free-form dashboards. Projects should have a point of view, targeting specific audiences and helping answer specific questions.
  • We encourage collaborative proposals. Organizations with data-visualization expertise may choose to partner with community-based organizations, or academic researchers may partner with organizations or individuals with graphic design or web development expertise.
  • Proposals must describe the final output and give a clear justification for the chosen display.
  • Proposals should discuss approaches to visualizing uncertainty in the data, whether through confidence intervals, data filtering, or other statistical methods.
  • Ideal projects will seek to inform and empower organizations and stakeholders concerned about the relationship between health and other community outcomes.
  • Proposed projects must elaborate on how the data visualization expands conversations currently in the field by advancing effective calls to action, fostering stronger collaborations, and/or yielding more knowledge about the intersection of health and related factors.

Information for Applicants

SUPPORT AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE: Support and technical assistance from the Urban Institute will be available throughout the funding opportunity, including webinars and feedback from the USALEEP 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 Visualizing Healthy Lives.



Please refer to the below for other special considerations:

  • Grants will start June 1, 2019 and continue up to six months, ending by November 30, 2019.
  • Projects should be formatted as a data visualization web app that can be maintained for a minimum of 3 years.
  • During the Full Proposal stage, applicants will be asked to provide detailed budgetary information for their project.
  • Funding will be available for 3-5 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 funding opportunity 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.