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Frequently Asked Questions

Please note: The Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation is a new program. This first year is a designated learning year for the program, and we are committed to continuous quality improvement. Because of this, we encourage communities to reach out to program staff with any questions as you consider applying and as you develop Letters of Interest (wihealthycommunities@wisc.edu). We also encourage communities to reach out to us with any feedback about the website, program materials, and application process. We appreciate communities’ flexibility as we incorporate feedback and make minor adjustments to the timeline, application, and/or criteria throughout this year’s application cycle.


Why should communities apply?

Communities that apply for and receive the Healthy Communities Designation will have a concrete way to acknowledge and celebrate their work to improve quality of life in their community. The application process is designed to boost existing health improvement efforts by providing guidance on the types of strategies and initiatives that have been shown to work, as well as by encouraging applicants to increase the degree of collaboration among diverse stakeholder groups in their communities.


Who can apply for the Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation?

Any self-defined, local, place-based community in Wisconsin is eligible to apply.

  • Applications may not be submitted by single individuals or single organizations.
  • Applications must be submitted on behalf of the entire community by a governing organization (such as a town board, neighborhood association, or Chamber of Commerce) or a community coalition.
  • If a community coalition applies, they must have a co-applicant that is a governing organization with a permanent mailing address.

What makes a community healthy?

A healthy community- and a healthy workforce- means more than healthy eating and active living. It also means having high quality education and jobs that provide adequate income, affordable and safe housing and transit options, and clean air and water.

A healthy community is one that broadly assesses its needs and subsequently examines and addressed the multiple factors that determine health:

  • Health Behaviors- including diet and exercise, alcohol and drug use, tobacco use, and sexual activity;
  • Clinical Care- including access to care and quality of care;
  • Social and Economic Factors- including education, employment, income, family and social support, and community safety; and 
  • Physical Environment- including air and water quality, housing, and transit.

Doesn't a program like this already exist?

There are several programs that recognize and encourage community health, but they each tend to focus on a limited area of well-being. The Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation incentivizes and recognizes communities that are working to advance a broad view of health. Recognizing this broader picture of health is what sets us apart.


How many communities can "win"?

This is a designation program rather than a prize program, which means each applicant that meets the program’s criteria with earn a healthy community designation. There is no maximum number of communities that can earn this designation.


What does my community need to do to apply?

The application process starts with the submission of a letter of interest. This letter will help us connect neighboring and/or overlapping communities who are working in similar geographic areas but may not be aware of each other’s efforts. Potential applicants will then be invited to apply in early 2018. Details about the application process and timeline can be found here.


Is there a fee to apply?

There is no fee to apply.


We have existing information about our work. Is it okay to attach these materials to the application?

Communities are encouraged to upload existing documents (such as community health needs assessment and/or community health improvement plan) and insert website links that they believe are relevant and useful for their application’s review. However, the written application must be able to stand alone and provide the review committee with a thorough description of their initiatives. Additional documents and links are intended only for supplemental and validation purposes.


What are the reviewers looking for?

The Healthy Communities Designation reviewers will determine whether your community earns designation and, if so, whether you meet criteria for the Bronze, Silver, or Gold level (each tier of designation has different minimum requirements). This tiered approach allows the acknowledgement of communities’ early, limited efforts (Bronze status) while providing more distinguished recognition for more comprehensive, long-lasting efforts (Silver or Gold status).

More detailed program criteria can be found here.

Each tier of designation has different requirements in terms of what communities must demonstrate about the quantity and quality of an initiative’s results (in other words, the change produced because of the effort). Communities striving to earn the highest level of designation will need to demonstrate more robust, substantial health effects resulting from their implemented initiatives. They will also need to provide the data they gathered to support the claim that their initiatives had such an effect.


What happens if my community earns designation?

Communities that earn Healthy Communities Designation Status (at any tier) will receive:

  • A graphic/logo with the year of the community's receipt, to be used on community produced materials;
  • A communication toolkit with sample press releases and other material to share your community's news;
  • An invitation to attend a recognition event, at which community members will be honored for their health efforts alongside other communities earning a designation; and
  • Access to and participation in a network of other Healthy Community designees, through which communities can collaborate, encourage one another, and share successes (and stumbling blocks) experienced during their health improvement efforts.

How long are designations valid?

Each community’s Wisconsin Healthy Community designation status will be valid for three years. Communities that seek a higher designation status may choose to re-apply before the end of their designation period


Who do I contact if I have questions about the Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation program?

Ann McCall, wihealthycommunities@wisc.edu
Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) Group
UW Population Health Institute