Cleveland, OH,
10:43 AM

MetroHealth Sponsored Clark-Fulton Initiative Receives Nationally Recognized EcoDistrict Certification

Nation’s first certified EcoDistrict rooted in healthcare expected to result in healthier city and improved health equity

On the heels of the approval of the first master plan in the history of Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood, Cleveland is now home to the newest certified EcoDistrict in the nation and the first anywhere that is anchored by a hospital. The Clark-Fulton/MetroHealth EcoDistrict is the first certified in the state and one of only four in the country.

The MetroHealth System began the process of certification in 2018 in collaboration with the City of Cleveland, Ward 14 Councilwoman Jasmin Santana, the Metro West Community Development Organization and the Cleveland Foundation – the same core group that led the master planning process. Together the team aligned the plan and the EcoDistricts certification process to create a bold and long-term vision to improve the health and lives of its neighbors by addressing the complex and intertwined issues of neighborhood conditions, poverty and community health.

EcoDistricts are a tool for creating comprehensive, measurable change at the neighborhood level and present a unique way to integrate health equity into planning. EcoDistricts are a new and higher urban planning standard being used by urban and community development leaders worldwide.

EcoDistricts strengthen cities or neighborhoods with development that promotes equity, community resilience, and sustainability. The districts consider social and cultural issues to ensure that growth doesn't compromise the quality of life for existing and future generations. It is a method of development that leverages the collective impact of many partners and stakeholders to safeguard that development reflects the voice and needs of community residents.

The Clark-Fulton/MetroHealth EcoDistrict is a game-changer and a dynamic and authentic community-driven partnership to spark long-term equitable and sustainable development,’’ said Rob Bennett, CEO of EcoDistricts. “Given the unprecedented investment in hospital and healthcare campus redevelopment throughout the U.S., MetroHealth is an inspiration for other healthcare systems to follow."

MetroHealth CEO Dr. Akram Boutros said: “Living a healthy life is so much more than just having medical care. Where we live -- the zip codes that we are born into – shape our opportunities and our health throughout our lives. Having access to good, safe, affordable homes, healthy food, and access to economic opportunity can have more of an impact than doctors and hospitals."

Some of the key elements of the MetroHealth/Clark-Fulton EcoDistrict that will shape future urban planning efforts include:

· Equity – access to education, affordable housing, employment opportunities, health and wellness, and fairness in development

· Food – access to grocers that sell healthy food, and education about food and food prep

· Climate protection, clean water, air, and reduced energy costs

· Mobility – improved access to jobs and amenities, improved safety, walkability, and other transportation methods

The first significant step of the EcoDistricts process was a declaration of collaboration by stakeholders that resulted in the Clark-Fulton Together Master Plan, the first-ever comprehensive master plan for the neighborhood. Recently approved by Cleveland's Planning Commission, the master plan proposes many visionary long-range projects. The plan seeks to strengthen community places and mixed-use corridors, create new open spaces, preserve existing historic homes, build new ones without displacing residents, and provide equitable access to the internet, among many other things.

MetroHealth and the City of Cleveland place a great deal of emphasis on the social conditions that shape the health and wellbeing of people. Often referred to as the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH), these non-clinical conditions impact not only the health of individuals but also the health and wellbeing of communities.

As a result, MetroHealth launched the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ (Health, Opportunity, Partnership, and Empowerment) to analyze and address the root causes of health problems. And the City of Cleveland incorporated the principles of SDOH into the Mayor’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative.

The newest certified EcoDistrict spans nearly 600 acres bounded by Interstate 90/490 to the north, I-71 to the east and south, and West 44th Street to the west.

Collaborative projects are already underway fulfilling the EcoDistrict Roadmap and Clark Fulton Master Plan, projects such as Via Sana, a 72-unit affordable housing project on MetroHealth’s campus, and The Blanket Mills redevelopment, a mixed-use affordable housing project on Fulton Avenue being co-developed by Metro West and The Levin Group.

Here’s what partners are saying about the EcoDistrict Certification:

Ricardo Leon, Director of MetroWest Community Development: “Past community development initiatives have often operated in silos with limited collaboration. As we’ve seen time and time again, that approach simply does not work. Through genuine collaboration and partnership, the EcoDistrict team will create true collective impact and will improve the quality of life for every member of our community.’’

Keisha Gonzalez, Program Manager, Social Impact Investing, and Community Development Initiatives at Cleveland Foundation: “The certification of an EcoDistrict in Clark-Fulton exemplifies the value of compounded planning and investment that cultivates equitable development for our neighbors. We look forward to the collaborative spirit of this plan.”

Councilwoman Jasmin Santana: “At the core of the master plan is community and residents. Our EcoDistrict Roadmap outlines how to make the master plan’s visions achievable. And the most important part of that is the input of our residents.’’

Freddy Collier, Director of City Planning, City of Cleveland: “The establishment of an EcoDistrict signifies the commitment by The MetroHealth System and all partners to implement place-based solutions that address population health. The work ahead will require the entire ecosystem working together.”

About The MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through four hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our 8,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit