Policy Accelerator

What is the Partnership for Healthy Cities Policy Accelerator?

Policy changes presents challenges—which is why the Partnership team has worked to establish a set of tools and resources to help cities bring their ideas into fruition.

Launched in September 2021, the Partnership for Healthy Cities Policy Accelerator supports cities in establishing the technical foundations and political strategies needed to create and implement local health policies that prevent noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries, including navigating the complex social and political hurdles to adoption. It provides training and support that puts health leaders in the driver’s seat as they work on actual problems they are facing, making change much more likely. The Accelerator places best-in-class tools, methods and expertise at the fingertips of participants that they can leverage for future challenges.

For more information, contact cities4health@vitalstrategies.org.

November 2022: Representatives from six Latin America cities, including Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (Mayor Carolina Mejía is pictured sixth from the left) gathered in the Dominican capital to discuss their progress with the Policy Accelerator program.

Overview of the Policy Accelerator

Over the course of six months cities access intensive technical assistance on policy development and advocacy through curriculum-based engagement and collaborative learning and exchange. The Policy Accelerator engages and guides city government participants through the following steps in the policy process:

Problem Characterization

Understanding legal authority

Defining the policy solution
  • Using evidence to describe the scope, impacts, and root causes of public health issue
  • Assessing available evidence to identify and address information gaps
  • Understanding city jurisdiction and application of different policy adoption pathways
  • Navigating multi-level governance (national, sub-national, local) for effective policy advancement
  • Identifying policy solutions to address public health issues and their potential impact
  • Considering implementation and enforcement plans within the policy development process

Politics and political engagement

Communications for the policy process

Action planning
  • Building public engagement and support for policy development and adoption
  • Leveraging political strategies to frame and position key public health issues
  • Assessing influence and interests of external and internal stakeholders
  • Using the media and communications to support policy acceptance and implementation
  • Considering and prioritizing policy implementation within the policy planning process
  • Resource planning, budgeting, workforce development, monitoring and evaluation for policy development

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Policy Accelerator Activities

The Policy Accelerator is an intensive program. Cities are expected to commit 2-4 hours per week toward live webinars and/or asynchronous work. However, this may vary week to week. In addition, city focal points meet every month to touch base on policy development and provide technical support and assistance. Teams should be available to join and participate in most sessions and meetings. The program also requires teams complete relevant tasks with technical support and assistance provided by the facilitators.

Explore news and stories from the program below.

Additional information

For the purposes of this program:

  • “Policy” is defined as a law, regulation, procedure, administrative action, incentive or mandatory practice of governments and other institutions.[1] Ideally, the policy proposed should aim to operate at-scale, meaning influencing practice for the whole of the affected population, or across a large area of the city or metropolitan region.
  • Policy is distinct from programmatic or communications activities, which will not be supported unless necessary to advance a new policy.
  • For certain policy goals (e.g., tobacco control and food policy), city legislative authority may be limited, so cities can work within the limits of their authority. For example:
    • The policy may entail establishing local enabling rules to support the implementation and/or enforcement of a national law or regulation;
    • A city government may also pursue specific legislative/mayoral policy initiatives to advance an existing national, regional or state-level policy.
    • NB: The above bullet points not exhaustive; we welcome proposals for policy goals that may be more closely aligned with other city planning objectives or mechanisms.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion considerations:

  • Proposals that center redressing health inequalities and achieving health equity will be favorably considered, as will proposals that reflect a continuity of previous Partnership-supported work.
  • Equity must be considered when assessing policy enforcement and compliance to increase overall policy effectiveness and promote equitable outcomes for city inhabitants.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/policy/opaph/process/definition.html

How can my city apply?

Applications for 2023 are now closed. Please email cities4health@vitalstrategies.org for more information.

What cities are eligible?

All cities currently active within the PHC network are eligible to apply when submissions are open. Cities that participated in previous Policy Accelerator cohorts should speak with their Partnership for Healthy Cities focal point prior to applying.

Successful applicants will have identified pressing problems in the city related to NCDs or injuries, considered policy solution ideas to address these problems, and have a basic understanding of their legal authority to enact such policies.

How do we define Policy?

“Policy” is defined as a law, regulation, procedure, administrative action, or mandatory practice of governments and other institutions. Ideally, the proposed policy should aim to address an institutional change in practice, operate at-scale, and influence practice for the whole of the affected population, or city-wide.

What kinds of technical assistance is offered as part of the program?

We offer continued, contextualized technical assistance, covering data, legal, communication and subject-matter expertise. A key component of the Policy Accelerator entails the creation of teams of technical experts that collaborate with city counterparts to facilitate and enable the effective development and adoption of NCD- and injury prevention policies. We also convene city-to-city exchanges, virtually and/or in-person, for PA cities to exchange ideas, share challenges and potential strategies for success, and compare experiences.

Does the program include financial support?

Yes. Each selected city is awarded 75,000 USD to develop and enact their policy. Prior to the funding being disbursed, cities must identify how the funding will advance a robust policy proposal that addresses NCD- or injury prevention. The funding may not be used for stand-alone projects or communications activities.

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