Back to News
Community First Credit Union Joins Blue Zones Project in Jacksonville as Financial Well-Being Partner

Community First Joins Blue Zones Project in Jacksonville as Financial Well-Being Partner

11.18.2022 / Maria Coppola - APR, CPRC

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Nov. 18, 2022 - Community First Credit Union announced today it has joined the coalition of leading Jacksonville organizations funding the Blue Zones Project coming together to make the city a healthier, happier place to live. The partnership represents one of Community First’s largest community donations and its largest ever to be focused specifically on Jacksonville’s most under-resourced residents and neighborhoods.

Blue Zones Project is a proven well-being improvement initiative that focuses on optimizing surroundings to make healthy choices easier so people live better, longer, healthier, and happier lives. The Project was brought to the region through the collaborative efforts of an influential group of both public and private Jacksonville organizations: Baptist Health, Brooks Rehabilitation, the City of Jacksonville, Florida Blue, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Mayo Clinic, UF Health, and United Way of Northeast Florida.

“We are committed to serving Jacksonville, and we’re proud to be part of Blue Zones Project,” said John Hirabayashi, CEO and president of Community First. “Financial well-being is good for individuals, but it’s also good for our entire city. We are excited to come together with these leading Jacksonville organizations to create a healthier community for all.”

Community First Credit Union and Blue Zones will create the financial well-being program to be utilized as a key component of improving community well-being. The program will feature customized financial well-being solutions to meet opportunities identified during the first-year foundation phase of Blue Zones Project. As part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Community First will also analyze internal policies and procedures to encourage additional understanding of how to serve everyone and eliminate otherwise invisible barriers to financial well-being.

While other financial institutions have supported Blue Zones Projects in other cities, Community First will be the first to create a community-focused financial well-being program with complementary services and products. The financial well-being pilot program will be rolled out in 2024 with the other community-wide initiatives for the greatest collective impact.

Blue Zones Project takes an environmental approach to improving the health of entire cities and communities by making permanent changes to a city’s built environment, policies, and social networks so healthy choices are easier in all the places people live, work, learn, and play. Research shows health status and income level are inextricably linked, so improving the financial well-being of the people of Jacksonville can help empower a well-being transformation at scale.

“We’re excited to have Community First come on board as important and visionary financial well-being partners in Jacksonville. We will work together to spearhead a new financial well-being pilot program aimed to improve the financial health of the people of Jacksonville, said Ben Leedle, CEO of Blue Zones and Co-founder of Blue Zones Project.

Blue Zones Project is led by a full-time local team and they are actively hiring. To learn more or get involved, visit

About Community First Credit Union

Community First Credit Union of Florida is a state-chartered credit union based in Jacksonville serving anyone who lives or works on the First Coast. Community First is one of the largest credit unions in Florida with $2.6 billion in assets and serving 165,000 members. Community First has 19 locations and 355 employees. A not-for-profit, Community First is a full-service financial institution offering banking, loans, mortgages and investments for consumers and businesses across the First Coast.

About Blue Zones Project Jacksonville

Blue Zones Project® is brought to Jacksonville by Blue Zones and a powerful coalition of community leaders: Baptist Health, Brooks Rehabilitation, the City of Jacksonville, Community First Credit Union, Florida Blue, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Mayo Clinic, UF Health, and United Way of Northeast Florida. This innovative partnership brings together influential public and private organizations under a shared vision to measurably improve community well-being, resilience, and economic vitality in Jacksonville. Over six years, local leadership and the local Blue Zones Project team will launch and implement policy work and school initiatives across all of Duval County. The Westside, Northside, and East Jax neighborhoods will undergo focused Blue Zones Life Radius® transformation. Visit for more information.

About Blue Zones Project

Blue Zones Project® is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. Blue Zones Project is based on research by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author who identified five cultures of the world—or blue zones —with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. The Project incorporates Buettner’s findings and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being. Blue Zones launched the first pilot community in 2009 in Albert Lea, MN with groundbreaking results. In partnership with Sharecare, the model has since been applied to more than 70 communities across North America, impacting more than 4.5 million citizens. The population health solution includes two Health Districts in California; 15 cities in Iowa; the city of Fort Worth, Texas; Corry, Pennsylvania; Brevard, North Carolina; Walla Walla Valley, Washington; and communities in Southwest Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin. For more information, visit

Back to News