Hospitals Building Healthier Communities: Investing Outside Institutional Walls

This webinar, organized by the Association for Community Health Improvement and the American Hospital Association, outlined opportunities for hospitals to promote health through economic development and community investment. The discussion used the findings of The Anchor Dashboard as a starting point to show how hospitals can broaden their impact on their surrounding communities. 


  • David Zuckerman, Research Associate, The Democracy Collaborative
  • Edward Gerardo, Director, Community Commitment and Social Investments, Bon Secours Health System, Inc.
  • Heidi Gartland, Vice President, Government Relations, University Hospitals
  • Cathy Rowan, Director, Socially Responsble Investments, CHE/Trinity Health


  • Introduce the concepts of anchor institutions and community wealth building
  • Explore how inclusive economic development strateiges can create healthier communities
  • Promote innovative stratgeies fro leveraging health system resources to benefit surrounding communities
  • Provide best practice examples to assist participants to develop efforts at home institutions

Supplemental Resources:

Powerpoint slides, definitions, op-eds, and blogs:

Webinar slides (PDF): Slides from the December 4, 2013 webinar presentation.

Other helpful slides (PDF): Powerpoint slides prepared by Dan Hodgkins, Vice President of Community Benefit and Economic Redevelopment for Indiana's Community Health Network

Key community benefit terms: As nonprofit hospitals begin to comply with a new federal requirement that they partner with community and public health representatives to identify and develop strategies for addressing community health needs, this one-pager provides helpful definitions for important terms to know.

"Going outside hospital walls to improve health:"  An op-ed in The Baltimore Sun by David Zuckerman & Gar Alperovitz on community health needs assessment and community economic development.

"Why Eds and Meds Matter for Community Economic Development:" An op-ed in Rooflines: The Shelterforce Blog by Steve Dubb, Research Director at the Democracy Collaborative, in response to Richard Florida's recent article in Atlantic Cities.

Building Community Voice and Power, One Hospital at a Time: IRS Proposed Rules Encourage Hospitals to Address Disparities in Health and Financial Barriers to CareThis Community Catalyst blog outlines the organization’s comments to IRS proposed rules for how non-profit hospitals engage community and public health partners in their community benefit planning (available 12/9/13).

Papers and reports:

Hospitals Building Healthier Communities: This Democracy Collaborative report provides an in-depth look at six hospitals in five cities that are rethinking their economic and community engagement strategies. These hospitals have recognized that health is more than just treating the patients that come through their doors and are beginning to adopt an “anchor mission” that can help build not only more prosperous, but also healthier communities. Pages 19 to 24 examine the new community benefit provision and the opportunities it creates. 

Protecting Consumers, Encouraging Community Dialogue: Reform’s New Requirements for Non-profit Hospitals:  This Community Catalyst factsheet provides an overview of the Affordable Care Act’s new requirements for non-profit hospitals, including developing written financial assistance policies, limiting charging, observing fair billing and debt collection practices and conducting regular community health needs assessments (CHNAs).

The Anchor Dashboard: 
This Democracy Collaborative report proposes a set of indicators to help institutions reflect and assess broadly the long-term impact of their anchor-mission activities, and particularly their impact on low-income communities. Developed through extensive research and in-depth interviews conducted with more than 75 leaders of anchor institutions, national nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and community organizations, the Dashboard identifies twelve critical areas where anchor institutions can play an effective role.


Community Benefit and Anchor Institutions: Linkages and Potential Opportunities: This webinar explored how community benefit requirements, especially in the wake of new Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations governing Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA), can provide a powerful and effective framework to drive transformative community economic development.  
Anchor Insitutions: Partnering with Healthcare Institutions to Build Communities:  This panel presentaion to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition discussed effective strategies for partnering with hospitals, presented new community benefit opportunities in the Affordable Care Act, and highlighted best practices that leverage these anchor institutions' resources to build community wealth.