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 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 interconnected factors that impact the health and well-being of their residents.

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 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

We are thrilled to launch the 2023 Action Cohort with the following five cities:

  • Austin, Texas
  • Dearborn . Michigan
  • Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Montgomery, Alabama
  • Rancho Cucamonga, California

The 2023 Action Cohort highlights the rich geographic and cultural diversity of cities across the United States. Each city will now begin assessing needs in their communities in order to formulate and implement policies to reduce health disparities.

The CoO Action Cohort began with a pilot in 2018 and now proudly includes 24 alumni cities. The most recent cohort launched in 2021 and focused on turning crisis into pathways for equity and resilience. Read the final report to learn more! For more information about the Action Cohort, send your questions and comments to

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
  • 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

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.