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360 Degrees of Health: Advancing well-being through community health research


The Opportunity

Overall wellbeing is influenced by a number of factors beyond biology including the social and built environments, access to well-functioning institutions, economic opportunity, housing, food quality, and safety. These extrinsic factors, often referred to as the social determinants of health, operate in a dynamic way to shape individual and population health outcomes. W.W. Caruth Jr. Fund’s 360 Degrees of Health grantmaking will focus on funding studies that explore ways to improve wellbeing in the North Texas community for the benefit of every resident in ways that account for variables such as race, income, and zip code. The goal is to identify evidence-based ways of building a culture of health for all.

The Challenge

North Texas is falling behind on several critical measures of community health according to the Healthy People 2020 Index[1], a scorecard designed to move every community toward improved health based on a social determinants framework. Healthy People 2020 highlights metrics that have been shown to promote “high-quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death.” Few of the counties in North Texas are on track to hit the Healthy People 2020 targets by next year, and many counties lag far behind on key indicators such as rates of heart disease, immunization, and smoking. [2]


A review of the Healthy People 2020 progress tracker makes clear that improved community health is not entirely a problem of discovering new diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. Much is known about how to detect and prevent disease, as well as the environments and lifestyle choices that extend life. The problem is that many people do not consistently engage in healthy behaviors, cannot always access quality healthcare, or may live in unhealthy environments. Innovative approaches to health promotion that can deliver results in real world settings are urgently needed, along with a clear understanding of the implementation conditions and populations in which they are likely to succeed.


There are three categories of funding described below. Organizations, such as hospitals or universities, may submit more than one application. However, a principal investigator must be listed on each application, and an individual may only serve as a PI on one project. The same individual may be listed as a part of the research team on other applications.

The budget cap for proposals is $750,000. The budget should be closely tied to the direct costs of doing the research, with reasonable limits on overhead. We will be reviewing project budgets through an efficient use of resources lens, and anticipate that proposed landscape analyses will be less costly than other types of proposed studies. Preference will be given to proposals that are led by investigators with strong subject matter expertise; whose impact will extend beyond a single organization; and that target populations disproportionately affected by the selected community health challenge or that experience barriers to accessing high quality care.

Note: If you have questions about whether a topic area is relevant for this funding opportunity, our staff would be happy to talk it through with you via our virtual office hours. Sign up for a phone conversation with one of our program officers the week of November 4-8 or December 4-10.

Funding Categories

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The goal of this funding stream is to create healthier, more equitable communities through the systematic investigation of techniques or tools designed to screen for, prevent, or control a known community health issue. Investigators may propose any form of applied research including creation and validation of screening tools, replication of evidence-based practices, and targeted interventions. The topic of study will be selected by the investigator. Topic areas may include, but are not limited to, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), school violence, behavioral health challenges, diabetes, cancer, and key indicators listed on the Healthy People 2020 Index. Applicants must establish in the proposal that the challenge is serious.  

The goal of the landscape analysis is to inform future investments in the control or eradication a known community health challenge. The topic of study is to be proposed by the investigator. Investigators will conduct a thorough assessment of current incidence rates, assets, and policies related to the prevention, detection, and control of a known community health challenge in North Texas. They will recommend strategic actions that should be taken to achieve improvements over a 3- to 5-year timespan. The plan may include adoption of best practices, intervention studies, and/or policy changes. Preference will be given to plans that incorporate evidence-based research and/or practice, have specific metrics, promote collaboration, consider long-term sustainability, and approach the solution from multiple angles.

The goal of this funding stream is to increase healthy behavior through interventions that guide people toward better choices and remove frictions in the service environment. The field of behavioral economics has demonstrated that people can be “nudged” toward healthier choices through techniques that leverage principles from human psychology and make changes to the choice architecture (i.e. how choices are presented and incentivized). Investigators will have the opportunity to propose rapid cycle tests[1] of innovative strategies to promote adherence to screening, prevention, and treatment protocols. Applicants may propose ways to utilize technology to extend the reach and sustainability of interventions.

To apply, your organization must meet the following eligibility requirements:

- Have a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt designation from the Internal Revenue Service that has been active for at least two years as of September 1, 2019.


- The proposed research must be of data-supported relevance to Collin, Dallas, Denton, Rockwall and/or Tarrant Counties.


[1] Healthy People 2020. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.  
[2] Healthy People 2020 Progress Tracker
[3] Rapid cycle tests are relatively short duration observational or experimental tests that are focused on immediate improvement in patient or consumer outcomes. The investigator is very clear about what she is trying to improve, what data points will demonstrate improvement, and the intervention parameters. In the spirit of Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles, the data from earlier tests feeds into adjustments to the intervention parameters for subsequent tests.


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