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NKY partnership part of Build Health Challenge; goal is to cut tobacco use in Covington, Gallatin County

NKyTribune staff

The NKY BUILD Partnership has been selected by a coalition of 12 funding organizations to participate in the BUILD Health Challenge, a national program that puts multi-sector community partnerships at the foundation of improving health for everyone.


The project will focus on reducing tobacco use through innovative data sharing and creative engagement strategies that serve the urban community of Covington and the rural community of Gallatin County.

“Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death and disease in our region, and has been identified as a priority health issue in our community. The NKY BUILD partnership will bring together partners and resources in a focused manner to reduce tobacco use,” said Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH; District Director of Health, Northern Kentucky Health Department

The NKY BUILD Grant Partnership is comprised of the Northern Kentucky Regional Alliance, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the Northern Kentucky Health Department, Three Rivers District Health Department, and The Center for Great Neighborhoods. These organizations will work together, with guidance from BUILD advisors, to identify and implement innovative solutions to community challenges.

“The NKY Regional Alliance is excited to be a partner in the BUILD Grant. With our partners, we will be able to make a difference in improving the health of the area’s residents.” Karen Finan; President & CEO, Northern Kentucky Regional Alliance

Matching funds from St. Elizabeth Healthcare, combined with BUILD’s $231,056 two-year grant, will further extend the partnership’s capacity to help reduce smoking rates in Covington and Gallatin County.

Sarah Giolando, St. Elizabeth Healthcare Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, said St. Elizabeth has been committed to the health and well-being of the Northern Kentucky community for more than 155 years and will continue that commitment through this project.

“Kentucky is ranked number one in both smoking rates and cancer deaths in the nation, and with both Covington and Gallatin County being part of our service area, we want to do everything possible to change these rankings,” Giolando said. “We are honored to be a partner in this endeavor to reduce smoking rates, improve organizational data sharing to direct combined health initiatives and strategy, and help lead tobacco free policies, which will help lead Northern Kentucky to becoming one of the healthiest communities in America.”


The NKY BUILD Partnership is one of 19 communities selected to participate. BUILD awards funding, capacity building support, and access to a national peer learning network. The program emphasizes cross-sector collaboration among local non-profit organizations, healthcare systems, and public health departments to address upstream conditions that create opportunities for better health. BUILD selected the NKY BUILD Partnership because of its Bold, Upstream, Integrated, Local, and Data-driven (BUILD) ideas to improve the health of its residents.

“The BUILD grant award will further the Center for Great Neighborhoods’ efforts to remove poor health as a barrier to full participation in the life of the Covington community.” Tom Dibello; Executive Director, Center for Great Neighborhoods

Both Covington (38 percent) and Gallatin County (25 percent) are well above the national average adult smoking rate of 16.8 percent. This grant will work toward decreasing smoking rates by 2 percent in Covington and 1 percent in Gallatin County by August of 2019. Multiple strategies will be used to help smokers in these target areas quit. Local residents will have a chance to provide input as the community strategies are developed.

“Every community faces its own set of challenges and opportunities when it comes to improving the health of its residents,” said Emily Yu, executive director of the BUILD Health Challenge. “With this award, we hope to catalyze the work of Reducing Tobacco Use through innovative data sharing and creative engagement strategies while bringing together, residents and organizations from across sectors to address the root causes of health issues in Covington and Gallatin County—ultimately transforming how we think about health in America.”

Avondale Children Thrive, another 2017 BUILD Health awardee, will aim to improve child and community health in Cincinnati’s Avondale neighborhood. The partnership, which consists of The Community Builders, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Cincinnati Health Department, was awarded $750,000, including a $500,000 match from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

BUILD seeks to create a new norm in the United States by addressing upstream factors affecting health. It is supported by a collaborative of local and national funders, which includes the Advisory Board, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, Colorado Health Foundation, de Beaumont Foundation, Episcopal Health Foundation, Interact for Health, The Kresge Foundation, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, New Jersey Health Initiatives, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Telligen Community Initiative, and The W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

For more information, visit buildhealthchallenge.org.

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