What Matters: Investing in Results to Build Strong, Vibrant Communities

The Table of Contents below outlines the chapters and authors featured in this book. In the coming weeks, we'll be adding stories of outcomes in action and much more.


This book is dedicated to UC Berkeley Professor Len Syme. He is considered by many to be the father of social epidemiology. His insights on the social determinants of health have been instrumental in helping many of us in the community development field better understand how our efforts to improve neighborhoods also improve health and wellbeing.

Len once said that after 60 years of studying the statistical and epidemiological models that predicted health, he noticed something unmistakable: Healthy children had brighter eyes. In other words, bright eyes were as powerful a predictor of future health as all his high-powered science; only when faced with mounting challenges did the brightness fade and disease creep in.

This book is dedicated to the idea that all children are born with bright eyes and that the ultimate “outcome” is keeping their eyes bright for a lifetime. That outcome requires new ways of orienting our social systems, including new business models and new financing techniques, which are described in detail in the following pages.

Shift to Outcomes

How Did We Get Here?
Why is This Important?

How This Works


Better Results for Vulnerable Communities
Field and Sector Implications
Reasons for Caution and Optimism

Synthesis and Way Forward