Pathways to a Healthy Kansas
The Pathways initiative, known as Pathways to a Healthy Kansas, is the largest community grant initiative ever funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. It combines community-wide, evidence-based solutions and practices to help Kansas communities improve active living, healthy eating, and tobacco prevention. The initiative provides community coalitions with the tools and resources needed to engage their communities and remove barriers to healthy living. Pathways started in 2016 with eight communities and expanded to 16 communities in 2017. In 2020, the Pathways initiative started a second phase of work with a total of 24 communities – 12 new and 12 returning communities from across the BCBSKS service area. Blue Cross provides each community with technical assistance for planning, evaluation, communications and measurement through partnerships with Wichita State University's Community Engagement Institute, Kansas Health Institute, Seed 2 Roots and other organizations.
Addressing Three Key Risk Factors
Increasing physical activity, healthy eating and avoiding commercial tobacco use are among the best ways to lower risk for developing chronic diseases and to live healthier, longer. These are the factors Pathways is designed to address in communities.
Many paths must come together to make real, sustainable change in a community. That’s why grantees are required to generate cross-sector engagement. During the first phase of the initiative, communities focused on these seven pathways: community policy, community well-being, food retail, health care, restaurants, schools and worksites.
In phase two, community pathways are designed to help the coalition take a holistic, community-wide approach to improving health outcomes by addressing the social determinants of health (SDOH). Social determinants are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age that fundamentally affect a wide range of health outcomes and risk (CDC). Pathways align with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s framework for the social determinants of health and focus on areas that impact community health across multiple factors: Community & Social Context, Neighborhood & Physical Environment, Food, Healthcare, Education, and Economic Stability. By using this framework for each pathway, this initiative will strive to improve conditions that are the drivers of health in a community. Coalitions select a package, or group of packages from each pathway below to work on throughout the four-year grant period.
The Pathways to a Healthy Kansas encourages community coalitions to identify the strategies that will work best for their residents and community culture, taking into account how their projects impact populations of focus and raising up those voices to advance health equity and improve the overall health of their community. Use the map below to learn more about each of our grantees.