GO! Austin / VAMOS Austin (GAVA)
The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is focused on transforming the lives of children living in urban poverty through better health and education. Through their GO! Austin / VAMOS! Austin (GAVA) initiative, they’re on a mission to substantially improve the health of the Dove Springs and 78745 communities.
COMMUNITY APPROACH TO IMPROVING CHIDLREN’S HEALTH
Launched in 2012, and catalyzed by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, GO! Austin / VAMOS! Austin (GAVA) is a placed-based, cross-sector initiative dedicated to improving the health of children in Dove Springs/78744 and the 78745 neighborhood of Austin. Residents, community leaders, funders, and nonprofits have come together to improve access to healthy, nutritious foods and safe physical activity while also establishing a sustainable community effort to lead this ongoing transformation. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation called on Mission Capital to provide strategic guidance on their GAVA initiatives.
With a heavy emphasis on resident leadership development, sustainability, and ongoing evaluation, GAVA has built a strong foundation and is able to track its successes based on measurable change in areas that all partners agree are important:
- Increased access to high-quality, healthy foods and safe physical activity options –Improved knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity.
- Improving resident capacity to lead and be change agents
- Improved motivation and ability to engage in healthy behaviors
- Improved healthy eating and physical activity behaviors
- Improved BMI and fitness
- Improved student attendance and achievement
Mission Capital believes that collective impact projects, such as GAVA, that engage Austin’s strong nonprofit, business and government sectors collectively will best enable us to tackle our community challenges.
Three years into the initiative, GAVA is seeing transformational change. A full sized soccer field was installed at Houston Elementary, giving increased access to physical activity to the students and their families. GAVA partners then worked with the school district and city parks department to develop an agreement that increases equipment and amenities on school parks throughout the city. Concurrently focusing on access to healthy food, GAVA worked to bring produce stands into the community, giving neighbors direct points of contact for fresh food. Additionally, coordinated teams of residents have become system change agents, working with the schools, neighborhood stores, parks, and business owners to implement policies and practices that expand access to healthy foods and physical activity options. Through its collective approach, GAVA is creating change and building sustainability.
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