Nearly 35 percent of the poorest New Yorkers report that their health is ‘poor or fair.’ That is nearly six times the number of wealthy New Yorkers who report that. Robin Hood funds the most effective programs to address these health disparities.

Sarah Oltmans
Robin Hood director,


Our funding improves the health of more than 55,000 low-income individuals annually. We make investments that focus on large hospitals like Montefiore or Bellevue that have special programs for abused children or survivors of torture, as well as small community-based organizations like After Hours and BOOM!Health that focus on harm reduction and overdose prevention and education.


The impact of poverty on health has been well documented. People in poverty are less likely to have access to insurance, health education information or regular medical care, which further worsens their health problems. In New York City, poor families are more likely to suffer from addiction, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, H.I.V., depression and obesity, among other chronic conditions. Correspondingly, the poorest New Yorkers live about four years less than their wealthier peers.


To address these health disparities, Robin Hood partners with nearly three dozen hospitals, children’s centers, drop-in initiatives and other community-based organizations to help low-income New Yorkers gain access to primary care, file for Medicaid or Medicare benefits, get screened for illnesses that affect the poor and even secure immediate treatment.

Here’s how we do it

Embrace established institutions and start-Ups alike. Serving the city’s poorest populations, from funding ground-breaking programs at first-rate hospitals, like Mount Sinai, Montefiore Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital, to giving inaugural grants to start-ups that use community health workers to enroll families in benefits and support families living with asthma and diabetes—Robin Hood partners with the strongest, most innovative providers of health care.

Support smart partnerships for new models. As the pace of change in health care accelerates, we are focusing health investments on sustainable solutions with the potential for scaling to help more people in need and replicating throughout the city and beyond. In partnership with organizations that specialize in health and children’s wellness, we hope to demonstrate new models of treatment that cost-effectively improve health outcomes. We support diverse initiatives including Turnaround for Children, which partners with public schools to lessen the impact of traumatic stress on children and military families, and at N.Y.U. Hospital, which provides counseling to veterans, their partners and their children. We also work with New York City and New York State health authorities to share information about best practices in health care for low-income populations, regardless of where they live.

Launch successful pilots. Before the Affordable Care Act was passed, 20 percent of New York City residents—nearly 1.2 million people—lacked health insurance. Shortly after passage, Robin Hood launched a pilot with Single Stop USA to help uninsured New Yorkers enroll in health plans made available on the new state-run digital Exchange. The program proved successful, helping 975 participants enroll in health plans.



City Health Works, a start-up organization, strives to address the lack of scalable models that effectively tackle the growing burden of chronic diseases—including diabetes and heart disease—in low-income communities. The agency trains community health workers to provide home visiting and coaching to help sick individuals make lifestyle changes to improve their health. Beginning in July 2013, City Health Works began a year-long pilot to improve the health of diabetic and pre-diabetic adults living in East Harlem. Most notably, City Health Works secured a partnership with Mount Sinai Medical Center that enabled them to increase funding opportunities and complete training for more community health workers, while providing services for 100 diabetic and pre-diabetic patients. City Health Works is bringing an African model of health care to Harlem to change the way chronic diseases (diabetes, H.I.V./A.I.D.S., obesity) are managed in poverty-stricken communities.


The Institute for Family Health (I.F.H.) provides primary medical and dental care, mental health care, behavioral health services and Single Stop services for uninsured New Yorkers through its Saturday free clinics. These free services help ensure timely medical care and preventive services for New York City’s most needy individuals and families. Services include basic vaccinations and screenings that are mandatory for some education and employment opportunities. Historically, the uninsured primarily included the working poor and immigrants. In 2014, the free clinics started serving a predominantly immigrant population, as a greater number of U.S.-born patients became eligible for health insurance through the expansion of Medicaid provided by the Affordable Care Act.

The Child Mind Institute

The Child Mind Institute (CMI) provides teacher training to help all students learn better. We fund this grant because we see a critical relationship between mental health needs and academic performance. And we know that teachers, especially novice teachers, are often inadequately prepared to address the mental health needs of students. C.M.I. offers two crucial services to schools. First, it trains teachers to identify children’s needs and manage the class through its signature curriculum, Teacher-Child Interaction Training (T.C.I.T.). This is a school-based version of the better-known Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (P.C.I.T.). Whereas P.C.I.T. seeks to improve a strained parent-child relationship and reduce problem behaviors in a child, T.C.I.T. uses the disciplinary techniques and findings of P.C.I.T. to help teachers manage difficult students and classrooms. Second, in addition to the teacher training, C.M.I. places its own clinicians (including psychologists) in the schools at least one day a week to help identify and evaluate students who may have needs beyond those that can be addressed in the classroom. These clinicians train “coaches,” members of the school community, to serve as on-site experts. The program currently serves 150 teachers and coaches who work with more than 1,200 students. While it’s too early for results in this new program, anticipated outcomes include lower student attrition and improved academic outcomes.

Community Partners

Advocates for Children
After Hours Project
Astor Services for Children and Families
Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture
Brookdale Hospital: Live Light/Live Right
Charles B. Wang Community Health Center
Child Mind Institute
Children's Aid Society
Children's Health Fund
City Health Works
Community Health Action of Staten Island, Inc.
Federation Employment and Guidance Service, Inc.
Fund for the City of New York/A.I.R. NYC
Institute for Family Health
League Education and Treatment Center

Montefiore Medical Center
Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York Presbyterian/Columbia
Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center
New York Presbyterian Fund, Inc. - Audubon Family Planning Practice
New York University McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research
North Shore LIJ Lenox Hill Hospital's Center for Attention and Learning
Northside Center for Child Development
NYU School of Medicine - Military Family Clinic
Partnership with Children
Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention
The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hepatitis C Program
Turnaround for Children
Volunteers of Legal Service