OGDEN — The Ogden Civic Action Network (OgdenCAN) will be receiving a $300,000 contribution from Intermountain Healthcare over the next three years to advance its community development work in Ogden.
OgdenCAN is a group of organizations, partners, allies, and more than 15,000 Ogden residents working together to improve housing, education, financial stability, and health-related outcomes in the East Central Neighborhood in Ogden, Utah.
“This award helps us to create an enhanced resident leadership network in Ogden’s East Central Neighborhood that we at OgdenCAN have envisioned for a long time,” said OgdenCAN Board Chair Brenda Kowalewski. She also serves as the Weber State University associate provost for high-impact programs and faculty development. “Residents will now be equipped with more tools to access better health, housing, education and financial security.”
Officials say the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified disparities in communities throughout the United States.
Officials said in a news release that food insecurity has increased from 11.8% to 14.5% because of the pandemic among adults in Weber County. They added that the amount of children experiencing food insecurity has gone up from 14.4% to 19.5% in Weber County.
In Ogden City, adults aged 25 and older who do not have a high school diploma or GED make up 16.3% of the community, according to a news release.
In a news release, officials say those who have not earned at least a high school diploma or GED have shown to earn lower median household incomes, which leads to a lower ability to get housing.
Officials say Weber County has a shortage of 2,710 affordable rental housing units for community members whose household incomes are 30% or less of the Weber County’s area median income.
Intermountain officials say their focus is to address “the social determinants of health—the non-medical factors that can play a role in a community’s health—which plays a role in its contribution strategy. Transportation issues, food insecurity, and housing instability all affect health.”
Intermountain started a three-year demonstration project in 2018 in Washington County and Weber County with community partners to address social issues.
“We know health is more than having access to high-quality care. Access to safe housing, education, along with other basic needs are all essential determinants to one’s health,” said Mikelle Moore, Intermountain Healthcare senior vice president and chief community health officer.
“We aim to demonstrate that supporting career pathways, digital solutions, food infrastructure, and equitable housing options can lead to positive health outcomes. The work OgdenCAN and its partners are leading is inspiring.”
OgdenCAN applies what it calls a “collective impact approach” to revitalizing the East Central neighborhood.
Officials say this approach is a long-term commitment from institutions, stakeholders, partners, and community members, all of whom are dedicated to a patient discovery process that follows the energy of collaboration.
OgdenCAN’s collective impact approach was put to the test when the Ogden School District began purchasing Chromebooks for every student at the beginning of the pandemic. “Discovery is an essential element of our work,” said Kowalewski. “We learned that while many students were equipped with laptops, not all had internet access. Our partners quickly purchased and delivered internet ‘hotspots’ to those in need to ensure vulnerable community members had access to the education they need.” The Ogden School District recently announced Ogden SD LTE, a city-wide network to enable all students to have internet access at home.
Learn more about the work OgdenCAN is leading at weber.edu/ogdencan