Exploring the Value of Prevention

A few weeks ago, we released a new request for proposals as part of our Designing the Future of Health initiative, with the goal of addressing an important question: What will it take to generate sustainable investments in strategies that produce health and well-being and end violence?

Asking this question now, at the start of our new strategic plan, is intended to help us avoid the potential pitfall of investing in new prevention strategies, proving they work, and then figuring out how to pay for them (which could take another 5-10 years). We are looking for projects that will signal the challenges to come around sustainability and lay important groundwork for solving them. We’re essentially starting at the end and working backward.

Over the past few weeks, many people have reached out to us to share their excitement and their ideas. The creativity and enthusiasm in the field is so inspiring! And these conversations have been a good test for our team—to see how clearly we communicated the goals and guidelines of this new opportunity.

That’s a particular challenge with this RFP because we wanted to ask more questions than provide direction. “We don’t know what we don’t know,” as the saying goes. It’s also true to the spirit of the Designing the Future of Health Initiative—exploratory.

However, we are noticing some common themes emerge, and we wanted to share our insights as folks finalize their proposals, due on June 28.

  1. There is a lot of energy in the field to build collaborations and to design and implement new, complex prevention strategies that will address the root causes of health and violence. Unfortunately, support for the implementation of new prevention strategies is NOT the primary focus of this RFP; it’s exploring value. Hold tight, those implementation opportunities are coming and will roll out over the next 6 months! Make sure to sign up for our email list to hear about upcoming funding opportunities.

  2. The focus of this RFP is exploring important question(s) related to the value of complex prevention strategies. There are seven questions related to value listed in the RFP, and all proposals must focus on one or more of them and clearly explain how they will go about answering them. Applicants can also propose another important question related to value that we haven’t thought of and how you will answer it.

  3. What do we mean by value? Exploring value is not just proving a prevention strategy works (e.g. evaluation). It must go further and consider the costs of delivering the strategy, the value of the outcomes, and to whom the benefit and the value of the outcomes matters. These explorations could be technical—focused on financing (the business case or new structural innovations)—or they could be about buy-in (understanding and shaping attitudes). They could be more conceptual or theoretical.  

  4. What’s a complex prevention strategy? Complex strategies address the root causes and put people and community experiences at the center. They often involve aligning interventions, activities, or policies across multiple sectors or institutions, and engage formal and informal networks. One example is the “portfolio of interventions” approach in the California Accountable Communities for Health Initiative, but we are interested in exploring other approaches. A prevention strategy could focus on an age or stage in the life course, or on a particular population. Single interventions or screening and referral to individual services won’t meet the test for complexity and addressing the root causes unless joined with other strategies.

  5. It’s important to consider the stage of your prevention work and how it aligns (or doesn’t) with the questions posed about value. Those who have already started implementing strategies and have signals about what’s working might be able to articulate new ways of measuring value and understanding the implications and innovations needed across sectors. For those in earlier stages, if you have defined your desired outcomes, perhaps you could use this opportunity to gather information and perspectives, but these approaches would need to address questions related to value versus simply informing the design of your strategy.

  6. Be sure to research what’s already been done, and propose to take the work further, or in new directions!

Visit this link for application instructions, an informational webinar recording, and answers to frequently asked questions. 

The application period for this request for proposals has ended. 

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