Earlier this year, Social Health Labs and the Foundation for Social Connection wrapped up Connect+Conversations, an event series that convened 26 experts and over 2,500 community members from 55 countries to discuss how to reduce and prevent loneliness.

Over the course of the series, we explored approaches across sectors and at all levels of society, from federal policy to the individual. We then summarized the recommendations in a white paper called “Creating the Conditions for Social Well-Being.” The Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Council is now developing a systemic framework that dives deeper into these themes.

As a public health professional, I believe we need the kind of comprehensive action that the report and framework call for, in order to enact lasting change and improve social health in the US and countries around the world. We need to keep building on the growing momentum in healthcare, education, technology, government, and other fields that are tackling this issue.

But as a neighbor, family member, and friend, I know that all of these efforts ultimately come down to our one-on-one interactions with each other in our communities.

That’s why I’m excited to share that Social Health Labs has once again partnered with the Foundation, this time to sponsor the Marcia Slater Johnston Award for Outstanding Leadership in Community-Based Efforts to Reduce Social Isolation and Loneliness. Marcia’s commitment to fostering connection among older adults set an example for us all—and the award will honor someone who is similarly inspiring. We will announce the winner at the upcoming Action Forum in October. 

This award continues Social Health Labs’ tradition of supporting community connectors by giving out $1,000 microgrants each month since January 2021. This year, on National Good Neighbor Day, we will share the stories of three of our microgrant winners and celebrate the power of local action for meaningful impact. 

I hope you’ll join us at the virtual gathering, Neighborhood Ripple Effects, on September 28. Until then, I invite you to reflect: How might you connect people and improve social health in your community?

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