Working to Advance Equity in Cities

Across America, city residents who live just a few miles apart – sometimes only blocks apart – have life expectancies that vary by as much as five, 10 or 20 years. The pandemic has amplified this fact, laying bare the urgent and glaring health inequities resulting from systems that have historically and disproportionately burdened certain communities while advantaging others.

The components of the Cities of Opportunity (CoO) initiative support city leaders and their communities by providing a proven approach, a customized process, practical tools, expert consulting and training to help them identify and address the most important issues related to health equity.

The Action Cohort

The CoO Action Cohort leads an interdisciplinary team of municipal leaders, staff and community partners from up to eight cities through a 15-month process designed to help them identify, plan and address health-equity issues specific to their communities.

Through tailored hands-on assistance and tools that meet cities where they are, cohort participants will use a proven data- and community-driven framework to:

  • Identify policy and system improvements
  • Develop action plans to address inequities
  • Participate in peer-to-peer convenings
  • Implement policies, practices, systems and structures to improve health, well-being and life expectancy

City Participation and Support

Since 2018, there have been 24 participating cities in three Action Cohorts have participated and worked to enhance well-being and health equity in their communities through the CoO model. The 2021 cohort had the broadest and most diverse set of cities, city leaders and external partner organizations. The cities, located in four time zones across the country, represent a mix of small, medium and large municipalities:

  • Fremont, CA
  • Houston
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Milwaukee
  • Missoula, MT
  • Plainfield, NJ
  • South Fulton, GA

The Turning Crisis into Pathways to Equity and Resiliency report highlights the accomplishments, learnings and next steps of the 2021 teams.

Eligibility and Application Requirements

  • Interest in, and commitment to, ensuring all residents have the same opportunities to be as healthy as possible through the exploration of the root causes of disparities and implementation of transformative policies, practices, systems and structures
  • Ability to assemble an effective core team that includes a combination of top city executives (mayor, city manager) and/or cabinet-level city staff, other local elected officials and principals from key partner organizations (e.g., hospital/health systems, community foundations, community-based organizations, business leaders, faith leaders)
  • Commitment of up to six hours per month by core team members between hands-on assistance sessions, cross-city events and internal working sessions with the team
  • Support of the mayor and/or city manager

How to Apply for the Action Cohort

NLC is accepting Letters of Interest and applications for the Cities of Opportunity Action Cohort through December 9, 2022.

  • A letter of interest from the mayor or city manager is welcome but not required before application submission and can be sent to coo@nlc.org
  • Before submitting your application, review the Request for Proposal (RFP) to learn more about the initiative and key information required to start your application
  • Once you’ve reviewed the RFP and gathered your requirements, you may start your application

How to Apply for the Action Cohort

Applications for the Cities of Opportunity Action Cohort will be open from September 14, 2022, to December 9, 2022. For the full Request for Proposal (RFP) and application link, click here.

A letter of interest from the mayor or city manager is welcome but not required before application submission. Please direct these letters and any questions to coo@nlc.org.

Cities of Opportunity

Municipal leaders know that achieving health equity doesn’t happen overnight – that removing inequities so all city residents have the opportunity for health and well-being requires considerable effort and focus, collaboration, dedication and the willingness to confront systems and policy barriers.

But it can be done. And the results are transformational.

Grounded in a Theory of Change and strategies that center equity, authentic community engagement and sustainability, CoO helps bring communities together through four key entry points (Action Cohort, Mayors’ Institute, Learning Labs and Solutions Forums) to find common ground and drive transformational change toward equity, well-being and life expectancy.



Cities of Opportunity Learning Labs

Open to all cities and their partners, these quarterly virtual discussions are candid, peer-led, curated and aimed at providing a broad entry point for all those engaged in advancing health equity at the local level.