March Madness, Burness Style

By Max Hedgepeth, March 30, 2017

March Madness is the culminating celebration of the college basketball season, when friends and family, colleagues and strangers, all fill out NCAA Tournament brackets with their choices for who’s going to win it all. No matter their allegiance, fans of sport and fun tune in for a rowdy three weeks of college basketball—unlikely heroes, last second shots and the beloved Cinderella story.

March Madness has a second meaning at Burness. It’s the time of year—and it does seem to happen every year—when some of our biggest and most exciting projects overlap. Burnessers unite for a month of hard and rewarding work—lots of cross-team collaboration, lots of late nights and lots (I mean lots) of coffee.

To celebrate the season, we’re recapping a few projects that were unveiled this month.

March 2: 500 Cities Launches Web Tool to Pinpoint Local Health Trends

500 Cities

As part of the 500 Cities Project, the CDC, CDC Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a first-of-its-kind interactive web application to provide city- and neighborhood-level health estimates for the 500 largest U.S. cities. The interactive data maps allow users—from policymakers and health advocates to community organizers and residents—to pinpoint health trends on a much smaller scale and implement targeted solutions. For example, in Rochester, Minnesota, urban planners are using 500 Cities data to help inform the redevelopment of the downtown area. The high rate of adult obesity in Rochester’s urban core has motivated planners to set aside more open spaces for sports and recreation.


March 15: Top Doctors in US Say Climate Change Is Harming Our Health

Map of health harms

Medical societies representing more than half of all physicians in the US (more than 430,000 doctors) released a report showing that climate change is making Americans sicker. From injuries and deaths due to more frequent extreme weather, asthma and other respiratory diseases exacerbated by heat and wildfires, and increased spread of tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses due to warmer seasons, doctors are seeing firsthand how the changing climate is harming the health of their patients. While the climate-health connection is clear to doctors, polls show that only one out of every four Americans understands it. So the newly launched Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health is taking this message to federal and state policymakers, as well as other doctors and patients, so that people understand how climate change hurts our health, and how switching to clean energy can have immediate and long-term health benefits.


March 22: New Program Aims to Help Boys and Young Men of Color Thrive

Photo: Forward Promise/Danielle Miles
Photo: Forward Promise/Danielle Miles

The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education officially launched the national program office for Forward Promise, an initiative to help boys and young men of color heal, grow, and thrive in the face of chronic stress and trauma. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where the initiative began, invested $12 million in this latest phase. With this investment, Forward Promise program is positioned to push the field of trauma-informed care forward so that young people have the supports and services they need to heal from the effects of trauma and lead healthy, productive lives.


March 29: Eighth Annual County Health Rankings Reveal How Your County Stacks Up


The annual County Health Rankings provide a snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play. For nearly every county in the US, the Rankings measure vital health factors, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, the quality of air and water, income inequality and teen births. Released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, the Rankings provide a starting point for conversations that can lead to positive change in communities. Visit the Rankings website to see how your county measures up!

It’s been a great March Madness season all around. See you next year!

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