Santa Monica Releases New Findings from Wellbeing Index

November 15, 2017 1:00 PM
by Julie Rusk

“Overall, we’re in good health, feel engaged in our neighborhoods, and are happy most of the time, but there are clear areas of disparity, and the overall strength of a community is measured by its ability to help all members thrive, including its most vulnerable members. The latest Wellbeing Index tells us that we have work to do, and we want to enlist the entire community in bridging these gaps.” – Mayor Ted Winterer

The City of Santa Monica’s Office of Civic Wellbeing released findings from the second Wellbeing Index, a first-of-its-kind tool that uses data to assess community health and wellbeing to prioritize policy and programs based on residents’ most pressing needs. The Index was created through the City’s winning entry in the 2013 Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, an ideas competition for cities.

For 2017, the second Wellbeing Index was fine-tuned to increase usability, including data disaggregated by race/ethnicity, age, gender, zip code, and other factors. Additional focus was applied to the resident input component, with the participation rate doubling from 2015 to add 3,827 resident voices responding to the wellbeing survey. The narrative emerging from the findings indicates that Santa Monica is a community with many strengths, including a diversity of lived experiences; however, it is crucial that the City continues to provide equitable access to activities and opportunities that promote wellbeing.

With this second round of findings, the City will continue its work and home in on partnerships as an effective path to addressing concerning aspects of community wellbeing. This will involve activating partnerships at multiple levels, including the launch of programs that drive citizen action with Bloomberg Philanthropies-led Cities of Services; intensive staff training on racial equity led by Center for Social Inclusion and Government Alliance on Race and Equity; and growing the network to get other cities replicating the Wellbeing Project.

The Wellbeing Index harnesses the power of data to provide a shared understanding of our community’s strengths and needs, encouraging collaboration among city leaders, local organizations, and residents to improve our collective wellbeing. We measure individual wellbeing (also called “outlook”) and five areas of community wellbeing for an understanding of both how well we’re doing as a city and how it feels to be a resident of Santa Monica.

Data Highlights

For more insights and other data highlights, check out the 2017 November & December Seascape Edition.

Wellbeing 365: Stress Less and Thrive

Along with release of the Index, the City launched a partnership with Kaiser Permanente to create a new video series, Wellbeing365: Stress Less and Thrive. The series, offered in English and Spanish, highlights a range of everyday actions for individuals and local resources to support community wellbeing. Be sure to check out all the Wellbeing 365 videos online to learn how you can get involved. And for more information on the project, visit

Authored By

Julie Rusk
Chief of Civic Wellbeing