Cities of Opportunity
Healthy People, Thriving Communities

Even before the pandemic, in cities across America, the life expectancies of residents who live a few miles apart, and sometimes even blocks apart, vary by as much as five, ten or even 20 years. COVID-19 has laid bare the urgent and glaring racial and health inequities that pervade almost every part of life in this country, including economic, environmental and social conditions that influence how long we live and how well we live. City leaders are uniquely positioned to improve these local conditions, advancing cross-cutting approaches that address underlying factors of health and well-being. Cities of Opportunity (CoO) takes a holistic approach toward transforming systems that have historically and disproportionately burdened certain communities, while disproportionately advantaging others.

CoO offers multiple entry points and a developmental pathway that embraces civic engagement, data, financing, multi-sector collaborations and cross-city integration. Through the Action Cohort and Mayors’ Institute, participating cities produce multiple outcomes toward comprehensive change for racial and health equity. And the CoO Learning Lab spreads learning to city leaders across the NLC network.  

To learn more, access these CoO reports: 

Cities of Opportunity Theory of Change is a visual representation of CoO’s Vision, Strategies, Programs and Outcomes in driving equitable opportunity, health and wellbeing for city residents, with a focus on racial equity.

Review this brief on our evaluative study on how the CoO approach to “meet cities where they are” has led to city improvements in health and racial equity – Cities of Opportunity: Pathway to Equity.

NLC has developed a messaging guide to support municipal officials in their communications specific to the multiple factors that affect health and racial equity: How Cities Can Redefine Progress Toward Equity for Well-Being. 

The Team

Cities of Opportunity is a cross-NLC initiative, led by the Health & Wellness Team of the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (IYEF). Key staff are:

Our Funder

Cities of Opportunity is generously supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health.

For more information: Email us at

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