Healthy Places Partners

photo of people meeting together to discuss healthier options

It takes many partners working together to plan, design, build and maintain the places where people live, work, study and play.  Providing opportunities for physical activity within the built environment improves community health.  Our Healthy Places Website supports using community resources, inspiration and culture to create places that have a sense of belonging while promoting people's health and wellbeing.  All of these partners support livable communities and have resources to help.

Health (TDH)

Tennessee Health agency logo

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) protects, promotes, and improves the health and prosperity of all people in Tennessee.  There is a local health department in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties.  Connecting health and the built environment benefits both individual and population health.  Community design can reduce cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and respiratory disease while improving mental health.  Livable communities reduce crime, violence, injuries and substance abuse.  TDH has a Healthy Development Coordinator in each of our regional offices to ensure health is considered in decision making for the built environment.  The Division of Family Health and Wellness has programs for chronic diseases and health promotion.  The Office of Primary Prevention helps Tennessee communities build a culture of health through livable and nurturing places and spaces so everyone can reach their full potential.  Project Diabetes is a statewide initiative that funds innovative primary prevention projects to halt the increasing rate of obesity.  The Division of Minority Health and Disparities Elimination recognize special concerns that arise from race, ethnic background, gender, rural and urban living.  The Environmental Epidemiology Program connects health and environmental data through Environmental Public Health Tracking.  Our Healthy Homes Website has resources to help people maintain their home to support their family’s health.

Transportation (TDOT)

Tennessee department of transportation logo

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) plans, develops, funds, builds, repairs and manages our statewide transportation network.  TDOT’s influence reaches into highways, public transportation, bike and pedestrian, aeronautics, waterways, rail and freight.  Communities with transportation choices often do better attracting new businesses, increasing neighborhood safety, reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality.  Improving walking and bicycling conditions helps everyone lead safe, active, and healthy lives.  TDOT supports communities to build infrastructure allowing them to choose to walk, bike, transit or drive.  Some of their grant programs include the Multimodal Access GrantCommunity Transportation Planning Grant and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.  TDOT’s Office of Community Transportation partners with local agencies to improve collaboration on transportation decisions.

Aging and Disability (TCAD)

Tennessee state seal

The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability (TCAD) is the designated state agency on aging and is mandated to provide leadership relative to aging issues on behalf of older persons in the state. Their mission is to bring together and leverage programs, resources, and organizations to protect and ensure the quality of life and independence of older Tennesseans and adults with disabilities.  The Commission has programs on caregiver support, long-term care, nutrition, public guardianship and the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).  Other topics important to the Commission are Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, community gardens, elder abuse, fall prevention and volunteer opportunities.

Economic and Community Development (ECD)

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community development logo

Tennessee has been recognized as a great place to do business.  The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) focuses on business and workforce development.  ECD has programs to support large industries, small businesses and attract new business.  At the heart of a competitive economic development strategy is community development.  ECD promotes Tennessee as a great place to make a living from the sophistication of our big cities or the Southern charm of our small towns.  ECD has several programs supporting quality of life improvements in communities such as Community Development Block GrantTennessee Main Street and ThreeStar programs.

Environment and Conservation (TDEC)

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation logo

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) protects human health and the environment, conserves natural resources, manages state parks and enhances the quality of life.  TDEC protects Tennessee’s air, land and water through a responsible regulatory system.  TDEC is committed to providing a cleaner, safer environment that goes hand-in-hand with economic prosperity and increased quality of life.  TDEC provides a variety of quality outdoor recreational experiences like parks, lakes, greenways and trails which can improve health through increased physical activity.  TDEC administers grants to communities such as their Materials Management Grants and Recreation Educational Service Grants.


Tennessee department of Education

Almost one million children are enrolled in Tennessee’s public schools.  The Tennessee Department of Education is dedicated to the goal of dramatically improving student achievement.  Education serves rural, suburban and urban community schools.  Safe schools, healthy meals and physical activity are all critical to improving outcomes for students.  Education works to meet the non-academic needs of students and their families.  Tennessee is unique with Coordinated School Health which focuses on eight components of school health including health education, physical education, health services, mental health, nutrition services, healthy and safe environment, staff wellness and community partnerships.


Tennessee department of tourist development

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development markets Tennessee as a destination for visitors.  Tourism operates 14 Welcome Centers and 18 Rest Areas across the state.  From the beauty, to the music, to Civil War history, Tennessee is attractive to vacationers from across the globe.  Tourism is an economic driver in many Tennessee counties.  Trends show visitors want an immersive, local experience when traveling.  Planning, designing and building livable communities also support tourism.  The Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways program markets 16 trails and 5 national scenic byways to help visitors explore all of Tennessee’s 95 counties.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

CDC logo

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the federal government agency which works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats.  CDC describes healthy places as those designed and built to improve the quality of life for all people who live, work, worship, learn and play within their borders -- where every person is free to make choices amid a variety of healthy, available, accessible and affordable options.  CDC supports healthy community design which can provide many advantages including promoting physical activity, improving air quality, lowering the risk of injuries, and increasing social connection and sense of community.  CDC’s Healthy Community Design Initiative website is a great resource for more information including fact sheets, videos and infographics.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Environmental Protection Agency logo

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the federal government agency responsible for protecting all Americans from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work.  EPA ensures all parts of society -- communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments -- have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks.  EPA demonstrates environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive.  EPA’s Sustainable and Healthy research program is working to provide the knowledge, data and tools needed to meet today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs in ways that are economically viable, beneficial to human health and well-being and socially just.  EPA’s Superfund and Brownfields programs make communities safer by cleaning up and reusing hazardous or abandoned sites. 

Planning Organizations

Federal transportation legislation requires all urbanized areas of 50,000 or greater population to maintain a continuing, comprehensive and cooperative transportation planning process.  Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) and Transportation Planning Organizations (TPO) administer federal funding and provide technical expertise for transportation projects.  Tennessee's 11 MPOs and TPOs serve Bristol, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Cleveland, Jackson, Johnson City, Kingsport, Knoxville, Lakeway, Memphis and Nashville.  In less populated areas of Tennessee, Rural Planning Organizations (RPO) are responsible for transportation planning.  Tennessee’s 12 RPOs are Center Hill, Dale Hollow, East Tennessee North, East Tennessee South, First Tennessee, Middle Tennessee RPO, West Tennessee RPO, Northwest Tennessee, South Central East, South Central West, Southeast Tennessee and Southwest Tennessee.  Tennessee has 9 Development Districts of municipal and county governments working together on planning and development.

Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs)

There are many like-minded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on health and the built environment.   National non-profits often have useful websites, printed resources, webinars and newsletters.  Some agencies or foundations offer financial support such as grants to help transform communities.  There are likely local advocacy groups ready to partner on health, safety, recreation and placemaking projects.  Here are some groups that may have helpful resources.

Parks, Greenspace, and Trails:

Cumberland Trails Conference

Related Links