Municipal Wellness and Leadership Initiative

The epidemic of overweight and obesity is a serious public health challenge worth addressing. Overweight and obesity is associated with serious health risks including increased risk of potentially fatal chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Two contributing factors to excess weight gain are poor nutrition and physical inactivity. The Mass in Motion Municipal Wellness and Leadership Grant Program is designed to build capacity at the municipal level to create a sustained approach for active living and healthy eating. The grant program is guided by the socio-ecological approach which emphasizes the interaction between, and interdependence of, factors within and across all levels of a health problem. It highlights people's interactions with their physical and socio-cultural environments. Fourteen communities received a grant to create a sustainable approach for increasing access to active living and healthy foods. Funding is provided through a public-private partnership, including six major public health-funding foundations and other lead health organizations.

Participating communities include Brockton, Dorchester, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Franklin, Gloucester, New Bedford, Northborough, Revere, Springfield, Tri-Town, Weymouth and Worcester.

Each community, under the leadership of their Mayor or Town Manager, builds a partnership with:

  • Municipal departments (such as town officials, members of public health, transportation, planning, and schools).

  • Non-municipal organizations (such as community-based organizations, local businesses, and community health centers).

  • People living in the community.

Together, they create and implement a plan for to increase access to healthy food and physical activity.

The Wellness Unit and its partners supports each community in the form of grant management, communications, reporting, community visits and delivering useful information and resources. The Unit also trains communities to successfully implement policy, systems, and environmental approaches to increasing access to healthy, affordable nutrition and opportunities and places to be active.

For more information on the progress of these communities and how your community can get involved, go to and visit the community page.

The Municipal Wellness and Leadership Initiative is generously supported by: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, the Boston Foundation, the Harvard Pilgrim Health Foundation, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation, and the Tufts Health Plan Foundation.

Community Wellness Grants

There has been a shift from infectious disease to chronic diseases with life-style-related risk factors being the major cause of death and disability Research shows that healthy behaviors can be changed and supported in organizations and everyday places in our society that touches our lives each day. The Department funded local organizations to implement wellness activities that address nutrition, physical activity, oral health and tobacco control in one of three broadly defined settings:

  • Schools

  • Workplaces

  • Communities

The grantees are located in the following cities/towns: Ashland, Brockton, Springfield, Greenfield, Worcester, Fall River, Berkshires, Jamaica Plain, Lowell, Allston, Fitchburg, Waltham, and Boston.

Thirteen of 16 funded programs are implementing nutrition and physical activity, or tobacco-focused activities and three are implementing oral health focused activities.

Organizations were encouraged to focus their efforts on developing policy and environmental change strategies that support healthy eating, active living and access to services. There are seven programs focusing on school-based programs, two with a focus on worksites and seven community-focused initiatives.

This information is provided by the Wellness Unit within the Department of Public Health.