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Building Healthy Communities | Near Westside, Syracuse

The Near Westside neighborhood of Syracuse once directly connected to the downtown of Syracuse.  A series of transportation projects—the expansion of West Street, the interruption of the street grid, and the loss of manufacturing jobs—contributed to the isolation of the community and erosion of resources. These processes led to the deterioration of the neighborhood and loss of a significant number of housing units, employment that pays a living wage, and other amenities. NYSHealth grantees, residents, and other local partners are working together to turn this neighborhood around.

Grantee Name: Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion

Project Title: Near Westside Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative
Grant Amount: $249,471

Grantee Name: Center for Court Innovation
Project Title: Near Westside Healthy Neighborhoods Fund Phase 2
Grant Amount: $375,00


  • 49% of children in Syracuse live in poverty.
  • The obesity rate for Onondaga County (of which Syracuse is the county seat) is 27.9%.
  • The smoking rate for Onondaga County (of which Syracuse is the county seat) is 16%.
  • The diabetes rate for Onondaga County (of which Syracuse is the county seat) is 9%.
  • The high-school graduation rate for Syracuse public schools ranges from 41–57%.


  • Increase residents’ knowledge of, access to, and purchase of healthier foods;
  • Improve the built environment and activate public spaces to make them safer; and
  • Strengthen community cohesion and peacemaking efforts.


  • Launched the NuVal nutritional scoring program at Nojaim Bros. Supermarket, paired with the Healthy Shopper Reward program and nutritional education both at the store and at St. Joseph’s Primary Care Center–West. As a result, purchases of healthy food items increased by 5%. 

  • Renovated an underused, dilapidated tennis court into a box soccer court;
  • Held physical activity programs at a family center in collaboration with the YMCA for seniors, adults and teens;
  • Organinzed the Summer Fun at Skiddy Park program at the area's only public park with a full roster of organized opportunities for physical activity (including a soccer clinic; a partnership with Syracuse Housing Authority for a summer softball league; a partnership with a local church and the Boys and Girls Club for a teen baseball clinic; and a movie night series); and
  • Worked with a local church to provide indoor organized physical activity opportunities for youth in the winter months.

  • Launched “50 Events in 50 Weeks” campaign to connect neighbors and activate public outdoor and indoor spaces, exceeding its goal and hosting a total of 55 events;
  • Conducted a comprehensive street light inventory, which led to a total of 75 street lights repaired by the City of Syracuse and National Grid;
  • Completed the Skiddy Park field house, which includes community space and a neighborhood police outpost for improved safety; and
  • Distributed 1,800 door hangers in the community with listings for monthly neighborhood activities.




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