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Frequently Asked Questions: Making the “Business Case” for Community Development RFP

This FAQ addresses questions that we’ve received since releasing this RFP.

1) What kind of data have you found through your existing literature review?

The literature review includes a broad summary of researched associations between a broad range of social determinants of health, such as early childhood education, supportive housing, and employment and relevant outcomes including cost savings, cost benefit, and health outcomes.

The literature review indexes and sources results, a sampling of the types of results noted below:

Sector Study Return found
Early education The High/Scope Perry Preschool Program cost–benefit analysis using data from the age-40 followup1 $12.90 gains for every $1 invested in early education
Education The economic value of improving the health of disadvantaged Americans2 $1.02T accrued to less-educated Americans if their health and longevity improved to that of college educated Americans
Housing Health Care and Public Service Use and Costs Before and After Provision of Housing for Chronically Homeless Persons with Severe Alcohol Problems3 $3569 per month reduction in total costs per Individual housed (also analyzed reduction in shelter days, jail days, etc., which can be further costed)
Housing The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children: New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment4 $3500 (31%) increased future annual income; 2.5% increased college attendance (many others also studied)

1 Belfield, et al. The High/Scope Perry Preschool Program cost-benefit analysis using data from the age-40 followup. Journal of Human Resources. 41:1 (2006).
2 Schoeni, et al. The Economic Value of Improving the Health of Disadvantaged Americans. Am J or Preventative Medicine. 40:1S1 (2011).
3 Larimer, et al. Health Care and Public Service Use and Costs Before and After Provision of Housing for Chronically Homeless Persons with Severe Alcohol Problems. JAMA. 301:13 (2009).
4 Chetty, et al. The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children: New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment. Harvard University and NBER. (2015).


2) What research gaps does this project address?

While public health researchers and health economists have studied cost savings and cost-benefit analyses for specific, largely single-sector focused programs, little research exists around the broad social impact of holistic community initiatives. This is due to both the difficulty of measuring these returns (and the academic nature of existing research), and the relatively recent rise of holistic community development efforts. Existing research, in addition to being highly targeted and somewhat siloed, also fails to use a common framework for communicating and comparing returns. This poses challenges to practical applications of this research, specifically focused on estimating ROI of multi-sector community development initiatives.


3) Is there any research on the impacts of comprehensive community development initiatives?

Yes, but not on the types of “returns” we are seeking to quantify. The “neighborhood effects” literature in policy/planning probably comes closest in the impacts of comprehensive community development on land values, investment flows, resident perceptions, and others, but there are no studies on “returns” or ROI specifically.


4) How is this project different from the LIIF Social Impact Calculator?

This study draws upon the methodology of the LIIF Social Impact Calculator, but our project is being pursued as an entirely independent pursuit with some guidance from the original researchers of the tool. In our research, we’ve found that the tool is most relevant to this project, but we are also open to other approaches that can similarly estimate a broad range of returns (including health) across multiple social determinants of health domains. LIIF Social Impact Calculator is an example of the type of tool we hope to create in the future.


5) How is the LIIF Social Impact Calculator being used?

The tool is primarily used internally by LIIF to estimate returns of and track progress for its investments in affordable housing, education, early childhood, and health clinics. The main audience has been investors, but it has received broad interest from financial institutions and different types community development organizations. There is currently no information available about how specific types of organizations used the tool but this is an important question for applicants to consider. Note- The LIIF Social Impact Calculator is free for use by general public and is also featured on the Build Healthy Places Network’s MeasureUp site.


6) How is the proposed project different or similar to Health Impact Assessments (HIAs)?

According the Build Healthy Places Jargon Buster, HIAs identify the potential health effects of a proposed policy, plan, program, or project. Based on an objective and thorough analysis of potential effects, an HIA offers practical recommendations for ways to minimize risks and capitalize on opportunities to improve health. HIAs focus solely on health impacts, not a broader set of economic, societal and health returns as this project proposed to do. HIAs are also site or project-based, while this research project generalizes returns for the field-at-large based on existing literature. Note- read more about HIAs in this blog by our colleagues at Georgia Health Policy Center.


7) For the purposes of putting together the itemized budget, can you specify how many on-site meetings you expect with the research team?  

There will be regular phone and/or video conference check-ins (frequency TBD) and at least one in-person meeting involving the Build Healthy Places Network staff and the research team. The number of in-person meetings may vary depending where the research team is located.


8) Can we include supplemental materials (e.g., diagrams, graphics, etc.) as part of an appendix or do you want everything to fit within the three pages?  

An Appendix of no more than one page is acceptable.

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