Health and Wellness

Increasing the health and wellness of Greater Boston residents

Health 3 The Health & Wellness impact area strives to lower rates of overweight and obesity in Boston and Massachusetts, as well as to reduce health care costs through a greater focus on prevention. To achieve this, we invest in increasing access to school-based youth physical activity and addressing obesity in the early childhood period. Additionally, we focus on reducing health disparities and health care costs through investing in cross-sector approaches that address the social determinants of health.  The Health & Wellness impact area focuses on three arenas: Youth Physical Activity; Early Childhood Obesity Prevention; and Health and Social Environment.

Youth Physical Activity

Ensure daily, required, quality physical activity for all students in Greater Boston by funding school-based physical activity programs, expanding partnerships with the Boston Public Schools, and commissioning research on program effectiveness and links to academic performance.

Grantee Highlight

Playworks is a national nonprofit organization that offers an on-site direct service program that transforms recess into a safe, fun and inclusive time that gets children physically active, improves school climate and reduces bullying. Playworks serves in 50 public schools in Massachusetts, the majority of which are in the Metro Boston region, with a priority on Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury. Providing 25,000 children with as much as 30-45 minutes of quality physical activity daily, Playworks not only increases students' physical activity, but also has ancillary benefits of increased time for teaching, reduced bullying, and enhanced feelings of school safety. 

Early Childhood Obesity Prevention

Improve prenatal and neonatal care standard practices in order to reduce obesity during early childhood. Invest in research-based interventions that bring together health care practitioners, federal grant programs, and community health programs in a collective effort to improve health and behavioral outcomes for both mothers and their children.

Grantee Highlight

MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Kraft Center for Community Health (Partners Healthcare System). The First 1,000 Days (conception to age 2) is a critical but often overlooked period of life for maternal and child obesity prevention. Building on research suggesting systems-level and community-based interventions that begin early in life may be most effective at combating obesity and addressing disparities, MassGeneral Hospital for Children and The Kraft Center for Community Health created the “The First 1,000 Days” study. This 5-year study uses a Collective Impact approach to develop, implement and evaluate an intervention across early-life systems of healthcare, federal grant programs and community health programs in Chelsea, Revere and Dorchester. The goal of this investment is to prevent obesity, promote healthy routines and behaviors and reduce health disparities among vulnerable children and families. 

Health and Social Environment

Incorporate health into decision-making across sectors and policy areas. Support systemic initiatives that take health beyond the confines of hospitals to improve medical outcomes, reduce health disparities and lower health care costs through cross-sector approaches that address the social determinants of health.

Grantee Highlight

Health Leads is a social enterprise that envisions a healthcare system that addresses all patients’ basic resource needs as a standard part of quality care. In 2016, Health Leads is leading a three-year project to engage at least five Boston-based health centers in a collaborative that will better address patients' social needs using Health Leads’ REACH tool. This technology program allows a health center’s staff to integrate social issues into the health records and health care of patients. The REACH tool will also allow health care centers to better quantify program quality and value, and increase program impact per dollar. Health Leads’ model is being piloted in Greater Boston but has the potential to be scaled and replicated nationally.

Learn how to apply for the different types of available funding.

Related Information

Healthy People/Healthy Economy Initiative

Health Starts at Home

Also See...

Latest News

Boston Foundation announces $1.02 million in quarterly grants to Greater Boston organizations
Date: December 06, 2016
The Boston Foundation announced its quarterly discretionary grants after a meeting of the Foundation Board of Directors on Tuesday. The Board approved $1.02 million in single and multi-year discretionary grants to be paid out beginning in December 2016.
Boston Foundation announces $160,000 in planning grants for Health Starts at Home initiative
Date: June 08, 2015
The Boston Foundation has announced planning grants of $40,000 each to four health and housing coalitions that seek to improve children’s health and housing stability, while decreasing costs associated with homelessness, rehousing, and healthcare.


The Civic Leadership Fund Golden Dome photo 2016 Over the last 15 years, the Boston Foundation has become a major civic leader for Greater Boston and our region—with crucial support from the Civic Leadership Fund. The Foundation and its many partners in the business and nonprofit communities—as well as numerous public officials—have had a real impact on a series of issues that are critical to the economic competitiveness and civic health of Greater Boston.


The Permanent Fund for Boston Longley-Elisio-photo

At the heart of everything the Boston Foundation has done over the last century—every grant it has made, every innovation it has supported, every cause it has championed—is its endowment, the Permanent Fund for Boston.  Established through bequests left by hundreds of visionary and forward-thinking Bostonians since 1917, this essential fund fuels all of the Foundation’s work and provides the resources that have sparked positive change and enabled new ideas.