We are driven by the pursuit of health equity. Health equity results when everyone has the opportunity to attain his or her full health potential.
In order to achieve this state, no one can be disadvantaged in reaching this potential because of his or her income, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability status or neighborhood.
We believe that health equity is both possible and essential in Minnesota, and this belief informs the work that we do in addressing social determinants of health.
According to the World Health Organization, "health inequities are differences in health that are not only unnecessary and avoidable, but in addition are considered unfair and unjust."
identifying and replicating promising strategies, programs and practices that
have the potential to reduce inequities; and (b) applying a consistent, broad
use of a health equity lens in grantmaking, we will promote changes in policies
and practices that result in reducing health disparities and improving health
Currently, the two major programs in our health equity portfolio are Public Libraries for Health and health impact assessments.
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We know that we can find good books at a library. But nowadays, what else can we expect? People now are visiting libraries as valued and trusted community resources to garden, develop their employment skills, take a cooking class and even increase their financial literacy. Thorson Memorial Library in Elbow Lake, Minnesota is one such library.
With a grant from the Foundation, the library is working to help area employers learn about a subsidized career readiness certification program that will help them develop employees and potential employees. Job seekers will learn about resources that will help them in their job search and skills such as resume preparation.
The staff, in collaboration with other organizations, will provide hands-on training,resources and information to help under- and unemployed residents strengthen employment skills and improve health literacy in ways that increase understanding about health equity among many groups.
By connecting residents, employers and community resources, and by educating all groups about the importance of social determinants of health, the library will be a key contributor to improving the community’s conditions, leading to increased equity and better health for the community as a whole.
On October 28, 2013, the Foundation hosted an all-grantee gathering focusing on health equity. More than 120 grantees from all four focus areas joined representatives from the Center for Prevention’s health equity programs to hear national, state and local leaders and to share in rich discussion their successes and challenges in working to advance health equity in the state.
Brian Smedley, Ph.D., vice president and director of the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C. kicked off the day with a theme of the Geography of Opportunity — the spaces and places where people live, work, study, pray and play powerfully shape health and life opportunities.
Glenn Harris, race and social justice manager for the Seattle Office for Civil Rights and Julie Nelson, director of Seattle Office for Civil Rights followed, elaborating on the work they are doing to build racial equity into policies and citywide initiatives.
Karen Francois, director of employment equity for the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights shared how her office is applying some of the principles from the Seattle work to create greater equity in Minneapolis.
A grantee panel wrapped up the presentations, with representatives from all four Foundation focus areas.
Click on the resources tab at thetop of this page to view publications and links related to the topic. Dr. Smedley and Ralonda Mason from Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid also were interviewed for a story that was picked up by 60 media outlets throughout the state.