Policy Accelerator

Call for applications: due January 18, 2023

(Apply now in English, Español or Français. Program is only open to cities within the Partnership for Healthy Cities network.)

Policy change 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. The Partnership for Healthy Cities (PHC) Policy Accelerator supports cities in establishing the technical foundations and political strategies needed to create and implement local policy. Cities in the network are invited to submit an application to participate in the second cohort of the program, starting in 2023.

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. Santo Domingo is working on passing a new law to reduce traffic fatalities by lowering speed limits, with technical support from Vital Strategies and the World Health Organization.

How to apply

The PHC Policy Accelerator is now accepting applications for our 2023 cohort. Download the application below and email it to phcpolicyaccelerator@vitalstrategies.org.

We are looking for Partnership cities that are willing to pursue impactful, efficient, and effective policy goals to address pressing public health concerns related to noncommunicable disease (NCD) and injury prevention. Successful applicants will receive technical assistance and up to $75,000 to develop and enact a city-level policy that will prevent NCDs or injuries.

The PHC Policy Accelerator—launched in September 2021—capitalizes on this momentum by supporting a select number of cities within the network to create and adopt robust policies that improve health. The initiative also aims to encourage future city-led public health policies by enriching public health policy development skills and processes.

Jump to Frequently Asked Questions.

Please click here to download the application


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Overview of the Policy Accelerator

Over the course of six months, participants from up to 15 cities will access intensive technical assistance on policy development and advocacy through curriculum-based engagement and collaborative learning and exchange. The Policy Accelerator will engage and guide 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

Have a question?


Click here for FAQs

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, we estimate 60-90 minute meetings with city focal points 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. Due to the global nature of the program, the virtual webinars may be scheduled outside of working hours for people in some countries. The program also requires teams complete relevant tasks with technical support and assistance provided by the facilitators.


Fortaleza, Brazil is working with the Policy Accelerator on improving air quality for residents.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

How can my city apply?

Please submit an application to this email address: phcpolicyaccelerator@vitalstrategies.org.

What is the deadline?

January 18, 2023

What cities are eligible to apply?

All cities currently active within the PHC network are eligible to apply. Cities that participated in the first Policy Accelerator cohort should speak with their PHC Senior Manager 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.

Cities currently implementing PHC-supported projects are encouraged (and are eligible) to consider selecting a complementary policy goal to support project sustainability. However, the Policy Accelerator will also accept proposals for NCD- and injury-prevention policy goals outside the city’s current PHC focus area.

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.

Can my city work on a topic that it has worked on with the PHC previously?

So long as it is a new policy, yes. The Policy Accelerator allows cities to apply for policies either connected to their existing intervention area/s with the PHC or a new topic. In either case, the intervention area must adhere to the list provided by the Policy Accelerator.

Who should submit the application?

Two technical leads (who might also serve as the Policy Accelerator focal points) should complete and submit the application.

Does the application need to be reviewed by my supervisor and/or an additional authority?

The application should be reviewed and approved by the Department Head (or equivalent) prior to submission. The process of successful policy development, implementation, and subsequent adoption necessitates high-level political engagement and endorsement, supplemented by continued commitment. Thus, we consider (and seek) high-level endorsement as a precursor and/or an indication for policy success for this initiative. Proposals endorsed by city Mayors will be strongly favored.

When will I know if my city was selected?

The selected cities will be announced in the first week of February 2023. Representatives will be invited to the Policy Accelerator Launch event at the PHC Summit – to be held 15-16 March 2023 in London, United Kingdom.

What are my/my team’s time and resource commitments?

Cities are expected to commit 2-4 hours per week, both toward live webinars and/or asynchronous work. In addition, we estimate 60-90 minute meetings with city focal points every month to touch base on policy development, and provide technical support and assistance, as needed. The timeline for the intensive curriculum-based portion of the Policy Accelerator cohort will be March – September 2023.

What kinds of technical assistance is offered?

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.

Is there any financial support for selected cities?

Each selected city will be 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.

What can the funding be used for?

Funding can be used to hire consultants to support project coordination, consultants with technical expertise or research and data analytic skills, to purchase necessary supplies to advance the policy development or adoption, to hire a writer to support the team throughout the development of work products, or to produce and publish key documents. While funding may not be used to supplement salaries of existing government personnel, external consultants may be hired to support the Policy Accelerator work.

When can cities use the funds?

Cities can use the funding once they have identified and demonstrated a robust policy proposal that addresses an existing NCD or injury prevention related public health issue.

What if I have more questions now or during the application process?

Please contact Mallika Auplish at mauplish@vitalstrategies.org and/or your PHC Senior Manager.