The BUILD Health Challenge

Maybe it all started with a love of Legos? Or maybe it was Lincoln Logs? Or creating an indoor tent and pillow fort with every clean sheet and pillowcase I could find in my house (sorry Mom!)? In short, the inclination to build things starts in childhood. As adults, we start building in other ways. Beyond construction, we develop systemic plans, and we see opportunities to build and work with intention to expand or increase something – make something bolder. Building something bolder­–a perfect way to describe Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ new venture with the BUILD Health Challenge.

Launched in 2015, the BUILD Health Challenge is a visionary funding collaborative designed to support local community partnerships. Its goal is to improve the overall health of local residents experiencing significant obstacles to health and health disparities. BUILD is underwritten by several national funders such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation with investments by a select group of regional funders throughout the United States. Methodist Healthcare Ministries is one of those co-investors, bringing the BUILD Health Challenge to South Texas.

BUILD is an acronym for Bold, Upstream, Integrated,Local, and Data-Driven. BUILD focuses on the upstream factors – social, environmental, and economic – also known as the social determinants of health that have the greatest influences on the health of a community. The beauty of BUILD is its boldness; it’s a fundamental shift beyond short-term programmatic work to longer-term systems change such as creating policy that makes a community healthier. Imagine going from building one Lego house to creating an integrated Lego community of nonprofits, hospitals, local mental health authorities, schools, churches, community centers, businesses, and on and on. This is where the challenge portion of BUILD comes into play: how do you address upstream challenges and drive sustainable improvements in community health?

Earlier this year, the BUILD team released a call for applications seeking imaginative and resourceful collaboratives who could design a strategy that adhered to the BUILD principles (bold, upstream, integrated, local, and data-driven), offer novel approaches to improving population health, and work with a health equity lens in all aspects of the project.

[To read more about health equity, please see Tim Barr’s blog “An Introduction to Health Equity” here: :—part-1/]

After a rigorous two-stage application process, the Hope for Health Collaborative in Kerrville, Texas, was selected as the BUILD grantee for Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ service region. Over the next 2 ½ years (the grant project period) New Hope Counseling Center is leading a collaborative to revitalize the Doyle Community, an historically isolated and segregated African-American and Hispanic neighborhood in Kerrville. Beginning with local policy changes, the Hope for Health Collaborative project is about reconciliation and repairing a century of structural racism. The collaborative plans to address the revitalization of this forgotten neighborhood with a focus on social connection, navigation and resident participation to address their individual and community resources and healthcare needs. This is groundbreaking work that will have population health impact for a community.

As part of a U.S. cohort of designated BUILD projects, New Hope will be on the national stage to share their BUILD story. As a co-investor, Methodist Healthcare Ministries is excited to stand beside some of the country’s most influential foundations to help shape a national conversation about the importance of collaborative funding and what we can build together to improve the health of communities.

To read more about the BUILD Health Challenge, visit