What is the Way to Wellville?

Let’s start with the simple proposition that health is an asset. It might be our most important asset. And like any asset, if we cultivate it we increase the value it returns. We’re not talking about fixes when health is broken; those are important but they happen too late.

So at Wellville, while we’re doing things to cultivate health we’re creating opportunities to invest in the value it returns. Like ways to realize those returns in terms of avoided health care costs at the scale of a community. This might mean persuading the right people that government policies can influence the viability of a market for health. In the U.S. we spend extravagantly on treating illness but we “enjoy” a population health status among the worst of all developed nations. It’s time to start investing in health.

The five Wellville communities see it this way: when health is cultivated it returns value in lives that are more productive, more fulfilling and happier. And in turn communities that are more stable and prosperous. Visit the FAQs page.

The Way to WellvilleFive communities: Clatsop County, OR; Lake County, CA; Muskegon, MI; North Hartford, CT; Spartanburg, SC. Their commitment: serious change in the way they address health. They’re planning projects in a way that will attract interest from investors; they’re developing the measurement tools to track progress; they’re building the capacity to stick to it over the long haul; and they’re committed to sharing among the other Wellville communities and the world their successes, and more important for learning, their failures.

Wellville Spartanburg Gathering

W4 working groups at the Wellville Spartanburg gathering, June 6-10, 2016

2017: First Quarter Update

We’re closing out the first quarter of 2017, with many notable accomplishments. Clatsop County, OR is the recipient of a Department of Education grant to fund a feasibility study into an early childhood program for some 600 county children. In Lake County, CA the two county hospitals are beginning to lay the groundwork for a 501(c)(3) to fund joint projects, perhaps first working together on an opioid reduction strategy for the county. The 1 in 21 Coalition in Muskegon, MI has begun to work with Healthy Muskegon — a coalition focused on the local food systems — to map all the county food-related assets. In North Hartford, CT, the process is underway for designing a local collaborative to fix a ten-year life expectancy gap. And in Spartanburg, SC, Hello Family, a comprehensive early-childhood program providing cradle-to-kindergarten services to all babies born in the county is entering the transaction-structuring phase of its pay-for-success financing arrangement.

In the middle of April, the Wellville 5 will meet in Clatsop County, OR for the fourth annual Wellville Gathering. This year we’ve had many third-parties express an interest in attending, hoping to learn from the experiences of each of the communities, and also to provide guidance and support — moral and practical — for the work ahead. What we see is that after almost three years into the journey each of the five is primed to make real strides in one serious, broad-scale initiative with paid and accountable staff; a budget and funding for that budget; and clear, measurable outcomes. Stay tuned…we think by the end of the year there will be substantive progress to report.


Tell us if you’d like to learn more about the Way to Wellville.