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Corporate Social Responsibility Taking a Stand for Healthy Communities

As a diversified health care benefits company, our strong and enduring sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR) demands that we stand alongside those who are working to improve the health of the communities where we live, work, and play.

That’s why, together with our partners, we launched an ambitious nationwide campaign in 2016 to catalyze cross-sector collaboration and advance innovative solutions to improve community health. The Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge will award $1.5 million in prizes to 50 small and mid-sized U.S. cities and counties that are able to show measurable improvements in health outcomes by implementing novel solutions.

The Challenge is underway, with local teams in 50 communities around the country beginning or expanding the hard work to improve the underlying issues that affect overall public health. For example:

  • Tulsa, Oklahoma, is supporting thousands of the city’s most vulnerable residents by transforming a block of abandoned houses into a community garden and orchard, creating a mobile grocery store, cooking healthy meals for seniors, and offering free book and computer centers around town.
  • San Diego, California, is empowering residents in high-crime areas to take back their communities, utilizing Walk and Knock programs with local police and neighbors.
  • Durham, North Carolina, is focusing on preventive wellness education and population health, with programs to identify people with risk factors for chronic disease, like diabetes, and get these factors under control through healthy lifestyle management programs, such as cooking classes.

The Challenge was designed for participants to share their experiences, best practices, and successful health improvement strategies so that they can be scaled and replicated by other communities.

Healthiest Cities Challenge Logo

will award $1.5 million in prizes to 50 small and mid-sized U.S. cities and counties

US Map - Social determinants of health

Turning our vision for a healthier nation into reality requires that we address social determinants of health. A focus of the Healthiest Cities campaign, these determinants are at the root of many public health issues facing communities across the country. In fact, about 90 percent of the factors affecting the risk of premature death exist beyond the scope of a doctor’s office or hospital. Social determinants of health are wide-ranging and can include proximity to fresh fruits and vegetables, the walkability of a city, the affordability of housing, availability of social support networks, access to health care, and the level of violence in a community, for example.

The Healthiest Cities Challenge adds to Aetna’s portfolio of programs that aim to improve community health. These ongoing efforts included the distribution of more than $2 million in grants across the U.S. in 2016, as part of the Cultivating Healthy Communities initiative.

The Aetna Foundation supported the start of 120 community gardens in 2016, helping people gain access to healthful food choices. As a result of the Aetna Foundation Healthy Eating Active Living initiative in 2016:

5,538 garden beds were planted covering 53 acres

2,131 cooking classes were held

4,626 physical activity/exercise classes were held

78% of participants ate more healthy foods and 75 percent reported an increase in the number of their healthy days

Wide-ranging CSR Effort

There are many facets to our comprehensive approach to building a healthier world. Some of our other areas of focus include:

Social Compact

Launched in January 2015, our social compact improved the pay and benefits of many of our employees. In 2016, we expanded the social compact with a new program to help thousands of employees improve their financial security by addressing a significant issue—the student loan debt they carry.


Our employees are hard at work supporting community initiatives, volunteering more than 400,000 hours of their time in 2016. Aetna employees, retirees and directors generously donated $6.8 million through the company’s matching gift program.

Environmental Sustainability

Though not a significant producer of greenhouse gases, Aetna’s longstanding commitment to reducing its carbon footprint is making a sizable impact on the environments where we live and work. For example, our energy-saving efforts across company-owned facilities avoided 2.87 million kWh of electrical use between 2014 and 2016.

Aetna is focused on building a healthier world—one community, one person at a time. This mission not only guides our business goals, it drives a comprehensive CSR strategy built around finding innovative, even unexpected ways to make communities healthier.

Our latest CSR report documents and demonstrates in expanded detail the approach we employ to building a healthier world. To learn more about our commitment to social responsibility, take a look at our CSR video below.

Play 'Corporate Social Responsibility' video
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