Public health investments are paying off for 50 U.S. communities, literally.

Today, APHA, the Aetna Foundation and the National Association of Counties, in collaboration with CEOs for Cities, announced support for community health innovations by naming finalists for their co-hosted, $1.5 million Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge. Each select city and county received a $10,000 award to implement a program that addresses a key social determinant of health — and creates better health outcomes in the process.

The finalists, which can be found on our map and full list of award-winning cities and counties, will be eligible for prize awards ranging from $25,000 to $500,000. Participants will be judged on their own progress and will not be competing against each other.

Improvements will be measured around at least one of five domains:

  • healthy behaviors;
  • community safety;
  • built environment;
  • social/economic factors; and
  • environmental exposures.

“We know that efforts to address these social determinants of health are necessary to create health equity, and that’s why we’re so excited for our 50 cities, counties and tribes,” APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD, said in a release. “Their innovative work is leading to better health in their own world and beyond.”

The HealthyCommunity50 were chosen out of hundreds of city governments, local municipalities, health departments, educational institutions and other entities. According to APHA, the Aetna Foundation and NACo, the challenge addresses a fundamental national problem: the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country in the world, yet Americans live shorter, less healthy lives than their counterparts in other high-income nations.

Find out more about all 50 HealthyCommunity50 initiatives. And engage in the challenge by viewing our Atlantic forum on Sept. 26 from 8:30-11 .m. EDT, and RSVPing for our #HealthiestCitiesChallenge Twitter chat on Oct. 6 from 2-3 p.m. EDT.