Healthy Built Environments (HBE) Grants

Map of Projects Funded through the Access to Health and Project Diabetes Grants

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Competitive Grants

Cities and communities are the stages where we play out out daily lives. These stages, known collectively as the “built environment,” influence how we view and understand the world, ourselves, and each other. The built environment includes all of the physical structures around us. These are the places we live, learn, work, play, and worship. Research increasingly demonstrates that the design of built environments impacts health. Improvements to the built environment can decrease obesity, heart disease, and diabetes rates while increasing physical, mental, and social health. Health-promoting community designs include walkable neighborhoods, accessible food stores with healthy options, affordable housing located near employment and transit options, and inviting public spaces that promote a sense of community. By enhancing the built environment, we gain both opportunities for safe physical activity and amenities that businesses value, thus strengthening our economies. Ultimately, these enhancements lead to improved quality of life for all. 

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) recognizes the link between the built environment and health and supports the creation of healthy built environments to protect, promote, and improve the health and prosperity of all Tennesseans. In 2015, TDH created the Office of Primary Prevention (OPP), to help Tennessee communities build a culture of health through livable and nurturing places and spaces so that all residents can reach their full potential. OPP envisions a Tennessee where everyone can make healthy choices wherever they live, learn, work, play, and worship.

In 2018, OPP launched a competitive built environment grant program. The Department awarded over $1.8 in grants to 34 grantees across Tennessee, including both government and non-government entities. Two-thirds of these grant-funded projects are located in economically-distressed or at-risk counties, as defined by the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development. The grants funded a diverse set of initiatives including convening, programming, planning, and construction of built environment projects. The projects included playgrounds, walking tracks, outdoor fitness stations, greenways, trails, and other publicly-accessible spaces that promote physical activity and social interaction.

In 2020, a second request for applications was announced, and TDH was able to award $863,000 to 14 grantees.  These projects, like the last, include convenng, programming, planning, and construction built environment initiatives that began in the summer of 2021 and are currently underway.

The Office of Primary Prevention plans to post more requests for applications in the future, though we do not have specific dates at the moment.  The best way to stay up-to-date on when we open up more rounds of funding is to subscribe to our Built Environment + Health Newsletter

Non-Competitive Grants

The State has offered their Healthy Built Environments grants non-competitively to every county in Tennessee.  In 2017, all  of the 29 rural counties were awarded $10,000 for convening, planning, programming, and construction.  In 2019, the program was opened to all 95 counties, and each received $20,000.  For more information about individual grant projects, please reach out to the Healthy Development Coordinator that serves the county you would like to learn more about. 

Project Diabetes

Project Diabetes is a state-funded initiative administered by Tennessee Department of Health’s Division of Family Health and Wellness.  Grants are awarded to community partners with a focus on reducing overweight and obesity as risk factors for the development of diabetes. Grant activities are geared toward interventions that are applied before there is any evidence of disease, and include built environment projects such as greenways, fitness equipment, playgrounds, sports facilities, walking tracks, and other health-promoting infrastructure. To learn more and view a list of funded projects visit the Project Diabetes website.