Healthy Communities

Life expectancy for babies born in the Greater Washington region ranges from 77 to 84 depending on the county where they were born.
Source: Commission to Build a Healthier America 2013

Healthy Communities Working Group (HCWG)

Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being – not merely the absence of infirmity.

A healthy community as one that is safe, with affordable housing, accessible transportation systems, work for all who want to work, and access to health care services which focus on prevention and staying healthy.

- World Health Organization

The Healthy Communities Working Group is committed to improving health in our region's communities and addressing issues of disparities in health status and outcomes related to race, ethnicity, and class. Our focus goes beyond medical care to:

  • The social, economic, and other factors that contribute to overall wellness, and the
  • Multi-sector collaboration to solve complex problems and bring about the system changes we believe it will take to make the region’s residents among the healthiest in the country.

Vision for the Region
The HCWG operates from WRAG’s vision of an equitable region in which all can participate and prosper. As a working group we see Greater Washington as a region where communities across all jurisdictions are thriving, and all people are living their lives to their fullest potential. Our theory of change outlines what this means and some of the things that need to happen to get there.

About the Working Group:
We are a mix of funders, some focused exclusively on heath and others with broad portfolios. Some of us are limited to funding in specific geographic areas, while others can fund regionally. We meet regularly to learn, share information, collaborate, and align grantmaking and non-grantmaking work. In 2014 we changed our name from the Health Working Group to the Healthy Communities Working Group to better reflect our current work and the collaboration we believe it will take to make the region’s residents among the healthiest in the country.

Since our inception some 15 years ago, the contacts made through HCWG have sparked collaborations and programs that are implemented outside of the group. We have helped clinics adapt to a changing health system, worked to integrate primary, behavioral, and oral health care in safety net settings, and focused on childhood obesity, in alignment with one another. We have significant focus on issues related to health reform and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in our region, particularly with regard to its impact on low-income populations and the providers that traditionally serve them. We are identifying and building opportunities to connect with funders with other interest areas to more effectively leverage all our efforts to improve the health of the region’s residents and communities and to address the social and economic determinants of health, which together have a far greater impact on life expectancy and the quality of life than medical care.


Marci Lu, O'Neill Foundation, Co-Chair
Brittany Giles-Cantrell, Kaiser Permanente, Co-Chair


External Organizations

For more information on activities related to improving health in our communities, visit: