Press Release: ReThink Health and the Way to Wellville Challenge

by ReThink Health Staff

ReThink Health and the Way to Wellville Challenge: Improving Health in Small Communities

Boston, MA – ReThink Health is pleased to announce it has received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for a twelve-month project, “Supporting the Way to Wellville—ReThinking Health and Care in Small Communities.” Five U.S. communities selected to take part in the five-year Way to Wellville Challenge will receive ReThink Health’s assistance with strategic planning, creating aligned and integrated stewardship teams, and developing a business case that will support sustainable financing of health-producing interventions and activities.

All tools and methods developed for the “Wellville Five” by ReThink Health will also be made available to the 36 other “Greater Wellville” communities that applied to the five-year challenge, as each continues its journey to health.

The Way to Wellville Challenge is sponsored by HICCup, the Health Initiative Coordinating Council, a national nonprofit founded by angel investor Esther Dyson. Its goal is to support five communities of fewer than 100,000 people across the U.S. in making visible and lasting improvements to their health and economic vitality. The following Wellville Five were selected based on their readiness for success and HICCup’s objective to work with a group diverse in geography, demographics, and sponsoring backbone organizations:

  • Clatsop County, Oregon
  • Greater Muskegon, Michigan
  • Lake County, California
  • Niagara Falls, New York
  • Spartanburg, South Carolina

We at ReThink Health are excited to work with HICCup and bring our experience with regions across the country to this diverse set of Wellville communities. Our goal is to help them develop a business case that will enable them to become better at assessing their opportunities and developing a plan for impactful action and sustainability in their health systems.” –Laura Landy, Founder and Chair of ReThink Health

All the communities will be working to make improvements on five general measures of health, however each has a focus specific to its own needs. The Wellville Five will receive dedicated coaching from ReThink Health. Leaders from these communities will attend a two-day strategy lab training them to use the ReThink Health “Our Town” Model, a computer tool specifically created for the Way to Wellville Challenge that simulates the behavior of regional health systems with data customized to reflect the unique characteristics of smaller regions. This group of communities will also have the opportunity to participate in facilitated discussion labs.

ReThink Health is developing tools and resources for both the Wellville Five and Greater Wellville that will assist them in creating a case for “investability”. A core tool will be a set of practitioner-focused instructional webinars outlining the why, what, who and how of a business plan. ReThink Health will also provide the communities with guides that outline how collaboratives can effectively work together to achieve successful outcomes and that highlight the imperative for a sustainable financing plan. Tools are also available that teach stewardship groups how to better understand their strengths and weaknesses and navigate the phases communities must progress through to create a healthier health system. The Wellville communities will also receive invitations to participate in ReThink Health’s online Leadership Circles. Each of the items are provided to support regions in compiling their business case.

About ReThink Health

ReThink Health, a collaborative initiative of the Fannie E. Rippel Foundation, helps leaders and communities overcome often predictable barriers and better understand how they can accelerate processes of change towards a healthier health system. We partner with regional leaders and peer organizations to build more effective regional collaboration and stewardship, create alignment around sound and focused strategy, move ideas to action, as well as build the capacity for sustained investment. Our goal is to overcome the pitfalls and excuses that stifle creative action and to demonstrate the potential of system wide redesign.

About HICCup

HICCup stands for Health Initiative Coordinating Council. It is a nonprofit founded in 2013 by Esther Dyson. HICCup offers the Wellville communities access to in-kind resources, vendor and domain expert support, data/measurement capabilities, and financing strategies from a growing group of partners and communities. HICCup is fiscally sponsored by New Venture Fund ( Additional partners, funders and collaborators are encouraged to visit and contact CEO Rick Brush at

About The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at