500 Cities Data Challenge


The 500 Cities Data Challenge is a $1 million grant initiative that encouraged communities to dig into the 500 Cities Project and design innovative solutions to address social factors that influence community health outcomes. The ideas generated through this grant competition are building the foundation for better cross-sector collaboration to foster a broad Culture of Health and help communities use data more effectively.

The 500 Cities Data Challenge has selected 10 organizations across the US to receive funding for projects that will improve community health outcomes using the 500 Cities dataset. In 2018–19, these grantees leveraged local health data to address social factors that influence health, including air quality, affordable housing, climate change, noise pollution, and public transportation.


The 500 Cities Project is a joint initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the CDC Foundation that provides city-level and census tract–level estimates for 27 chronic disease measures. These data were collected for the 500 largest cities in the United States, representing more than one-third of the nation’s population and enabling organizations in these cities to put local data to work. These diverse indicators allow community organizations, local public agencies, and researchers to better understand the burden and geographic distribution of health-related variables in their communities and assist in planning data-driven public health interventions.


Get to know the 10 500 Cities Data Challenge grantees and their projects by clicking on the profiles below. Learn about how each grantee used the 500 Cities data, what they learned from it, and their recommendations for others interested in taking similar approaches in their communities. Be sure to follow #500Cities on Twitter and share your own stories of using the 500 Cities dataset to advance health outcomes.


The 500 Cities Data Challenge began with an open invitation to submit creative and brief letters or videos of interest. Organizations with the best ideas were invited to submit full proposals detailing the activities, budget, and anticipated impact of their projects. Applicants were judged on how their projects would meet the following four primary selection criteria:

  • thematic relevance of the proposed project, especially connections across sectors
  • significance of the proposed project in terms of advancing the use of the 500 Cities data in communities
  • degree of innovation in the use of 500 Cities data
  • feasibility of completing the proposed project during the grant period

For more information, please stay tuned for our grantmaking toolkit to learn more about the selection and award process.

Air Alliance Houston

Houston, TX
United States

Air Quality, Built and Natural Environment
Assessing the potential public health impacts of a highway expansion project in Houston.
Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Atlanta, GA
United States

Health Inequities and Determinants
Informing the design of policy interventions to address critical public health needs and strengthening community partnerships/collaborations to build healthier communities.
Connecticut Data Collaborative

Hartford, CT
United States

Affordable Housing
Analyzing how housing conditions and housing stability cause health disparities among the most disinvested neighborhoods in Hartford, CT and using evidence to advocate for meaningful policy change.
Elevate Energy

Chicago, IL
United States

Housing and Air Quality
Assessing health disparities across low-income Chicago neighborhoods to inform policies and advocacy for hyperlocal targeted investments to improve health and housing conditions.
La Clínica de La Raza, Inc.

East Oakland, CA
United States

Nutrition, Health Inequities and Determinants
Promoting healthier habits among immigrant populations in Oakland through data-informed community outreach.
Louisiana Public Health Institute

New Orleans, LA
United States

Transportation and Policy Interventions
Using data to inform policy investments in transportation, health, and economic opportunity in the Greater New Orleans Region.
Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI
United States

Evaluating the relationship between public transportation and attainment of preventative health services among Michigan's elderly population.
University of Alaska Anchorage

Anchorage, AK
United States

Climate Change
Assesses the impact of natural disasters on the prevalence of negative health outcomes (biophysical and reported), such as high blood pressure and reported poor mental and physical health, across the 500 cities dataset.