(CLOSED) Aetna Foundation: Cultivating Healthy Communities Grant Program

Sponsor Name: 
Aetna Foundation
Description of the Award: 

The Cultivating Healthy Communities (CHC) grant program is geared specifically towards nonprofit organizations that work with underserved, low-income, and minority populations in the contiguous United States. CHC seeks to catalyze measurable improvements in community health outcomes. This funding directly supports efforts to make underserved communities healthier places to live, work, learn, play and pray. Through this RFP, Aetna invites submissions for projects that address the social determinants of health* and participants’ physical, mental, and social well-being. Projects must address the domains shown below.

Applicants must commit to improving the health of community residents by focusing on activities that align to at least one of these domains. Applicants must also use at least one indicator in their selected domain(s) to measure their program’s impact. Throughout the life of their project, grantees will be held responsible for demonstrating progress along the indicator(s) of their choosing.


Built Environment

• Improved walkability, bikeability, and public spaces in a community

Community Safety

• Increased collaboration between local law enforcement and community members to proactively address immediate public safety issues, public health issues, or both

Environmental Exposures

• Decreased exposure to air and water contaminants

• Increased understanding, monitoring, and reporting of local environmental hazards by community residents

Healthy Behaviors**

• Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables

• Increased physical activity and stress reduction activities

Social/Economic Factors

• Increased access to healthy foods through the development of new or enhanced retail options, including resident-owned businesses.

* As defined by the World Health Organization, the social determinants of health are “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels.” The opportunity for health begins in our homes, jobs, neighborhoods, and places of worship. Projects should look at these environments as starting points for improving the health of their participants. We’re looking for this expanded view of where health begins and how it continues.

** Applications under the Healthy Behaviors domain are very strongly encouraged to focus on changing local policy. We will prioritize policy-focused projects when selecting sustainable approaches to healthy behaviors.


In 2017, the Aetna Foundation selected 25 projects from a pool of 2,500 applications. Due to the increasingly competitive nature of the program, they encourage prospective applicants to consider the information above together with the following guidelines about the type of projects that will receive special consideration in 2018. These include:

  • Projects that advance resident- or youth-led initiatives: Do local residents play a pivotal role in the planning and implementation of your activities? Is developing resident leadership essential to your project’s success?
  • Projects that seek to influence and strengthen local policies: Does your project examine and address how the policies of local institutions impact the health of residents in your community? Does your project hold itself accountable for achieving policy changes?

Aetna Foundation is looking for projects that will make a lasting impact on the health of a well-defined group of people in a community. Projects that have solid methods for measuring change over time will have a competitive advantage over projects that have limited or sporadic contact with participants (e.g., health fairs, school presentations). You can find more information about the types of projects we fund in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this RFP.


Aetna Foundation expects to award up to $2 million in grants through this RFP. Applicants can request a total grant award between $50,000 and $100,000 for the entire project period. Projects can last between 18 and 24 months, and must start between August 20, 2018 and October 15, 2018. We will not accept applications from organizations with Aetna Foundation grants that are still active as of June 30, 2018.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Apr 18, 2018
OSVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Your Limited Submission application should be uploaded in one .pdf file and include clear and concise information about the following items:

Domain and Indicators: The domain(s) that your project will address and the indicator(s) it will use to measure results.

Elevator Pitch: Tess us what you would say if you only hand 30 seconds to explain why your project stands out from the thousands of other projects submitted. (150 words)

Use of funds: Summarize how you would spend Aetna Foundation funds to carry out this project. (100 words)

Statement of Need: The specific need in your community that the project meets (100 words)

Target Audience: Explain who exactly will benefit from the project. Use concrete numbers as much as possible. Specify whether these individuals will have leadership roles in the project, and if so, what those roles will be. (150 words)

Project Activities: The project’s activities and how these activities will respond to the stated need (250 words)

Capacity: Your organization’s qualifications to carry out this project (150 words)

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OSVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Monday, April 2, 2018 - 4:00pm