Rhode Island Health Equity Zones
State/Jurisdiction: Rhode Island
Population: Life Course
Topic Area: Equity & Anti-Racism Safe and Connected Communities
Rhode Island’s Health Equity Zone (HEZ) initiative is an innovative, community‐led, place‐based model that brings people in a defined geographic area together to create healthy places for people to live, learn, work, and play. Health Equity Zones start by building, expanding or maintaining a collaborative of diverse partners, conducting an assessment, and developing a plan to address the factors that keep people in their neighborhood from achieving their full potential. The Rhode Island Department of Health provides flexible seed funding via four-year cycles to support the development of an effective, community-led infrastructure that can drive the transformation of policies and systems for healthier living over the long term. The HEZ model focuses on improving the health of communities at highest risk of adverse health outcomes, such as illness, injury, chronic disease, or poor maternal and child health outcomes, due to poverty or other social, economic, and environmental determinants of health. In Rhode Island, there is at least one HEZ in each of the state’s five counties. Several are defined by inner‐city neighborhood boundaries, several are city‐wide, and one encompasses an entire county, largely rural in nature. Rhode Island’s model is organized around a four‐year funding cycle consisting of flexible funding, which helps communities develop their capacity to address the socioeconomic and environmental factors that prevent people in the community from achieving optimal health. HEZ funding supports the development of community infrastructure that elevates the voices of the residents and collaborative members and decides on and implements strategies to address community-driven priorities.
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