Proviso Partners for Health  

Who We Are

Located just west of Chicago, Proviso Township's Proviso Partners for Health (PP4H) is a multi-sector coalition that was developed to ensure healthy food access and community economic development. Partners from businesses, daycare centers, schools, health care systems, social service organizations, and community residents work collaboratively to implement policy, systems, and environmental change strategies.  We are also partners with the Cook County Department of Public Health's Healthy Hot Spots initiative.


Growing opportunities for all with passion, action and hope.


To achieve our highest expectation for community health,

justice, and love.

PP4H is committed to the following values:

Youth Inclusion:

We value the creative talents and potential of youth to achieve our common goals.

Community Assets:

We believe everyone has something to teach and everyone can learn from one another.

Trust and Integrity:

We build relationships among partners based on equity, trust and integrity.

Balanced Power:

We balance leadership and decision-making among organizations, community members and families with lived experience.

Unity and Diversity:

We value the power of our unity and diversity to achieve our common goals.


We value a safe environment to optimize health and well-being for all.

Proviso Township Overview:

PP4H uses health improvement tools and methods to support healthy living in the Proviso Township. In addition to healthy living and access to healthy foods, a long term aim is economic development and job creation through initiatives. Proviso Township contains about 150,000 people, and is approximately 10 miles west of center-city Chicago with three high schools. The area is segregated by wealth and other social determinants of health.  At one of the largest high schools in the Township,  the amount spent per student is the least of all the communities in the area. This neighborhood also includes unemployment rates at an all-time high, graduation rates that are below 40% and an obesity rate that is twice the national average. Nevertheless, there are a wealth of assets in our community and the coalition has helped bridge the gap between the hospital, schools and the community to build partnerships in order to leverage existing assets and resources.

Reflections on the SCALE Journey

Shanika Blanton, Program Manager,and Lena Hatchett, Executive Director, welcome PP4H members at yearly retreat.

Youth leader speaking at PP4H yearly retreat.

SCALE (Spreading Community Accelerators through Learning and Evaluation) is the first community-based program of the IHI-led global initiative, 100 Million Healthier Lives, which aims to achieve the goal of 100 million people living healthier lives by 2020.

The goal of  SCALE is to promote community health improvement in communities like Maywood by sharing and growing experiences in this initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Some people dream about vacation and I used to dream that my community could be a place where people wanted to come. Despite very little evidence that crime, unemployment, education, and food access was getting better, somewhere inside me was a vision that the community could be beautiful and the Black and Brown people that lived in it could love themselves and each other.

At the beginning of  SCALE I still remember the day I saw the word JOY in the application. To see joy as a value in grant application was intriguing. I didn’t know what improvement science was or the reputation of IHI, but the journey connected to the possibility of the Proviso community that I’ve always had.

Towards the middle of the SCALE journey I was living that earlier dream. My confidence grew, I learned more tools than I can count. It seemed every crazy thought I had, there was a value, practice and tool to describe why it was going to work. I latched on the concept of bright spots and failing forward as my new mantra along with the science to explain why we cared in our community, why we didn’t give up and why it was going to work. Habits of the heart, empathy maps, switch thinking, group facilitation, power mapping and action labs, we use it all. The community norms switched overnight and it is acceptable to trust each other again.

At the end of the SCALE 1.0 journey, I hardly recognize this community. The Park District and the Village that has fought over parks for more than 20 years are sitting at the table working collaboratively. The police are training with women domestic violence survivors, and our youth Champions for Change are teaching adults how to find asset in the community. When we meet a new partner we listen and figure out what they need. There is usually, a SCALE tool just right for their challenge. We ignited a community revolution with SCALE and it is spreading naturally.

Healthy Food Access For All

Maywood, IL is a community in Proviso Township where over 50% of residents are at or below the federal poverty level. The Proviso Partners for Health coalition, initially began by working on improving healthy food access in this neighborhood because it was a food desert and because of the prevalence of chronic disease in the Proviso Township.

Initially, we advocated for and had a grocery store open.  This is usually considered the gold standard of achievement in addressing food deserts. Unfortunately, the grocery store closed after 18 months. We started a farmer’s market that was also unsuccessful. With the help of other coalitions and organizations, we recognized that community engagement, building on local assets and needs, and economic development were critical to creating a healthy community—and to do that, we needed to partner across sectors. 

 This began a whole new path for us as PP4H turned into a true cross-sector coalition. 

How we connect:  PP4H + Healthy Food Access + our Youth

Our Story:

The vision for Proviso Partners for Health was born several years ago as community members and organizations, who had never met before, sat at a community meeting hosted by the Cook County Department of Public Health. This particular meeting highlighted the rising frustrations surrounding community health. Grocery stores were closing, crime was increasing, there was a severe lack of after-school activities for children and young adults while children in our community were experiencing a high rate of obesity.

Where some people might see a lost cause, we saw an opportunity to improve the health of the community and the well-being of the youth by working together.

"Failing Forward Moment"

Our "Failing Forward Moment" was that we started with the idea of a farmer’s market that could provide a healthy food options and link us to local growers.  However, the farmer's market didn't succeed.   What we learned from our failures was invaluable because we realized that our residents enjoyed working in the community gardens and the sense of community it developed. The gardens also gave our youth an opportunity for after school and summer activities. Our failing forward moment was the catalyst for our vision for a local sustainable food system, which starts with the organic produce that we grow. 

Community Bright Spot:

Key action items that resulted from our development as a coalition involved bringing in new partners and individuals to give the community a voice, and to build intentional structures to support engagement.

Shared Leadership between institutions and residents of the community

Community Improvement Advisors

Champions for Change (Youth Advisory Board)

Synergy and leveraging our community resources

Policy, Systems and Environmental Change

We focus on 3 key areas for community change:

1. School Environments

2. Community Environments

3. Business Environments

School Environment

Proviso Partners For Health Theory of Change

Healthy Food Access in the Schools

Grab and Go in Proviso East High School

There are three high schools in our community that serve thousands of students. When we initially set out to change the health outcomes in our community we knew that one strategy had to be to engage schools around healthy living behaviors. We targeted the school in Proviso Township that had the most need to address our alarming rates of childhood obesity.   

We began by establishing a Wellness Committee where students, teachers, administrators and even the food service provider work together to create and implement a strategic yearly plan. Everyone in the school environment has the opportunity to  give their input on how to make the school a healthy place.  

Initially when we sought to change the healthy food offerings in the school, it was a challenge to engage and get buy-in from both the School Board and the food service providers.  Once we overcame that hurdle then we had to work within food service regulations to be able to get the salad bar set up in the school. Over that time we had been testing various breakfast and lunch "grab 'n go" options including a grab and go salad bar at one of the local high schools.  Before implementing the grab and go breakfast option, only a small number of breakfasts were consumed by a student body that exceeds 1800. After grab and go was instituted,  breakfast consumption increased tenfold.  Similarly, before grab and go salads were offered, there was no real push to provide more fruits and vegetables and no demand. 

Due to our implementation efforts, our aim was to increase access to fruits and vegetables by 50% in one-third of the high schools in the district by 2016. Now with  200 salads being made and eaten each day, and more fruits and vegetables being offered in the cafeteria, we have surpassed our aim.  Currently, we are scaling the grab and go breakfasts and salad programs to all of the  high schools in the district.

Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA)

We utilized various community improvement tools we learned as a result of SCALE  to support us in reaching our aim. We used various tools in order to address our primary drivers: Affordability, Availability, Demand and School Partnerships.  We conducted prototyping  to determine where the salad bar should go and PDSAs with students in the cafeteria as well as ‘lunch bunch’ to taste test the offerings, which addresses demand. Lastly, after the success of the grab and Go salad in one school, we also performed a planning tool called an Action Lab in order to scale our efforts to the rest of the high schools in the district. Over the course of the school year more students had access to healthier food options in the school and more students joined the lunch bunch, a success in engaging youth in healthy eating.

Students tasted 3 salads. This is the results from The Thai Chicken salad.

We did PDSAs for putting the salad bars in the school around what foods to put in there. We were limited by food choices and we wanted to make sure they tasted good, so the PDSA was really around would the kids eat this, so we did tastings and we asked them.

Community Environment

Community Bright Spot: 

Something Good Can Grow Here

How does the Giving Garden Farm benefit the Maywood community?

Maywood has limited access to fresh food that limits everyone’s access to affordable, healthy food which directly exacerbates the health disparities faced by this community. The last grocery store in Maywood closed on Christmas eve 2016. The farm is planning to increase food access to the community, school food programs, corner stores and promote healthy catering options in Maywood. This garden is the foundation of our future local food hub to promote affordable, healthy food. 

By operating an urban agriculture site, we offer our community:

 Increased access to affordable, local, organic, and nutritious


 Free workshops focused on developing gardening and growing skills, and troubleshooting tips from urban agriculture experts

 Group or individual volunteer activities

 Tours and information sessions

Where does the farm operate?

The GG Farm is located across the street from Proviso East High School 50 W. Madison Maywood, IL 6053. The farm sells fresh produce via the following outlets:

 GG Produce Market, a weekly farm stand

 WIC produce bags

 Retail sales to Mujeres Unidas, a local healthy catering business and teachers, staff and students at Proviso East High School

What do customers and visitors say about the Giving Garden Farm?

 “something good can grow here”

 “I helped build that .. people really appreciated it. I didn’t think they would, at first, but they did.

 “I liked learning about the garden and stuff because before that I wasn’t big on eating healthy or any of that. So, it kind of made me start paying attention to my health and eating healthier. “

Since 2010, garden space throughout the Proviso Township has grown.

The Giving Garden At Proviso East

The Giving Garden and Broadview Garden Partner With Proviso East High School

Both the Giving Garden and the PEHS Wellness Committee are partners of Proviso Partners for Health, a community coalition. The Wellness Committee connects the PEHS community to the Giving Garden. So far this has mostly been by getting students involved in the garden with leadership from Ms. Marcia LaPorte. But in the future, PEHS students will learn about running a business as the Giving Garden has started to sell produce to the PEHS community. In addition, the PEHS cafeteria may also purchase produce from this community resource.

By participating in and learning about urban agriculture and food access, the students had an opportunity to work in an environment they may not have previously experienced. More importantly, students have gained skills they can use in any work or life situation - leadership skills, teamwork, patience, and an understanding of community dynamics, service, confidence, and pride.

Business Environment

Economic Development in Proviso Township

PP4H is a multi-sector coalition that was developed to ensure healthy food access and community economic development. We started out with gardens aimed at  engaging youth to provide urban agricultural training and an opportunity for extracurricular activities. Then the coalition engaged over 100 community residents and local organizations, who began donating parts of their yards to develop community gardens, participating in neighborhood cleanups, and becoming more active in improving the health of their community. This engagement with local residents reinforced the need to pair economic development with healthy living. As a result, the coalition began integrating social enterprise and business partnerships into our healthy food access efforts (healthy catering business, food coops) to intentionally create new jobs and began tracking the number of new jobs created as an outcome metric (see below) along with measures of healthy food consumption and square feet of growing space donated by the community.

Corner Store Initiative

Developing new grocery stores and cooperatives, creating farmers' markets, and improving the quality of foods sold at convenience stores are all ways to increase a community's access to healthy foods. 

Relationships and Partnerships

A  session with the SCALE leadership team highlighted relationships and partnerships they have built with other organizations. The structure of quarterly meetings helped them move the work forward. The team reflected on the importance of the coalition serving as a connector to leverage the community’s strengths.

Key action items that resulted from the session with the SCALE steering committee are to continue to bring in new partners and individuals to give the community a voice, and to build intentional structures to support engagement.

They have created a network of partners who support healthy living as they build a food access system in their community. For example, a local gardening store donated the seeds for the garden. The garden land and the materials to build the garden beds were donated by the owners of ReUse Depot, a company with a warehouse to help recycle and reuse discarded home building materials. One of their relatively new partnerships is with a local co-op grocery store, Sugarbeet is a potential buyer of the produce that The Planthropists harvest, a student group that grows and collects the vegetables from the garden.

May through August 2016, the PP4H partners have had successful health focused programs. Mujeres Unidas has used more fruits and vegetables in their catering and are beginning to host large events and weddings. In addition, they continue to focus on healthy living within their families. A community corner store also has recently begun to offer healthier food options and there is an improved healthy food policy in the music group at the Quinn center.

Finally, children in the elementary school are tasting and showing interest in the vegetables in their school garden, which also fosters connections with community members who have expressed interest in becoming involved in the school garden. Moreover, the elementary school has stopped using unhealthy snacks and candy for fundraisers.

There is a strong relationship between the Loyola University Chicago School of Nursing members of the PP4H school work-groups and local elementary and high schools that has existed prior to PP4H. They focus on health projects that best fit the school’s needs and have helped the school identify volunteers who could support the students’ efforts.

I believe that every child in this world needs to have a relationship with the know how to nourish themselves...and to know how to connect with the community around them. -- Alice Water