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."

By (a) 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 for all.

Currently, the two major programs in our health equity portfolio are Public Libraries for Health and health impact assessments.


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Minnesota's Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model

New report by PolicyLink that documents the cost in inequity to Minnesota's economy and offers solutions.


Minnesota's Tomorrow Presentation

PolicyLink's presentation of the report Minnesota's Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model at a gathering on March 26, 2014.


Time to Act: Investing in the Health of our Children and Communities

Recommendations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America.


Executive Summary: Time to Act: Investing in the Health of our Children and Communities

Executive summary of the recommendations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America.


Foundation Overview

Learn about the Foundation's focus areas, 2013 grantmaking and other key information.


Racial Equity Tools

A website that offers tools, research, tips, curricula and ideas for people who want to increase their own understanding and to help those working toward justice at every level.


Building Stronger Communities for Better Health: The Geography of Health Equity

Presentation by Dr. Brian Smedley of the Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies from the Health Equity in Action gathering on October 28, 2013.


Health Equity in Action

Presentation by Glenn Harris and Julie Nelson with the city of Seattle's Race and Social Justice initiative from the Health Equity in Action gathering on October 28, 2013.


City of Minneapolis Employment Equity

Presentation by Karen Francois, Director of Employment Equity for the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights from the Health Equity in Action gathering on October 28, 2013.


Clint Smith Video on Life Expectancy and ZIP Code

A very powerful video clip of teacher Clint Smith rapping about the link between ZIP code and life expectancy.


2012 National Rural Poverty Trends

Article is written by the Housing Assistance Council based on the U.S. Census annual report on poverty, income and health insurance.


Overcoming Obstacles to Health in 2013 and Beyond

A report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that shows dramatic differences in health among Americans from different income, education, and racial or ethnic groups.


A Lost Decade: Neighborhood Poverty and the Urban Crisis of the 2000s

Report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies that looks at trends in the share of African American, Hispanic and white families in high-poverty neighborhoods since 1970.


Segregated Spaces, Risky Places

Study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies that looks at the relationship between the level of segregation in metro areas in the U.S. and their residents' health.


Striving for Health Equity

Report by Grantmakers in Health on opportunities to advance health equity, as identified by leaders in the field.


The Upstream Doctors

Book by Rishi Manchanda that focuses on addressing the social ills that are the source of patients' medical problems.


Framework for Understanding and Measuring Health Inequities

Framework developed by the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative showing how social inequalities affect health.


Knowledge to Action Series

Publication by Grantmakers in Health that looks at the research on social determinants of health and offers case studies.


Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick Documentary

PBS series produced by California Newsreel that shows how the conditions where we live, learn, work and play affect our health.


America’s Tomorrow: Equity Is the Superior Growth Model

A PolicyLink report prepared with the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity.


University of Wisconsin Population Health Rankings

This website provides rankings that are based on a model of population health that emphasizes the many factors that, if improved, can help make communities healthier places to live, learn, work and play.


Social Connectedness and Health

A Wilder Research report exploring how social connectedness influences health.


Minnesota Compass

Website for Minnesota Compass, a social indicators project that measures progress in our state, its seven regions, 87 counties and larger cities. Compass tracks trends in topic areas such as education, economy and workforce, health, housing, public safety and a host of others.


Revealing Socioeconomic Factors That Influence Your Health

Supplement to the Unequal Distribution of Health in the Twin Cities report.


The Unequal Distribution of Health in the Twin Cities

Report commissioned by the Foundation and conducted by Wilder Research that shows how health is connected to median area income, education, race and neighborhood conditions.


Health Inequities in the Twin Cities

An update to the 2010 report Unequal Distribution of Health in the Twin Cities, commissioned by the Foundation and produced by Wilder Research.


Thorson Memorial Library, Elbow Lake

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.

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Minnesota's Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model 

Major demographic winds of change are sweeping the state. We risk slipping into economic mediocrity unless we boost equity for all, especially those driving the change.  That’s the biggest take away about findings documented in a recently released report, Minnesota’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model. The report was released at an event on March 26, 2014 in Minneapolis.

Several local funders* interested in understanding the gaps and building on opportunity to boost the state’s economic health commissioned the nationally known PolicyLink and its partner University of Southern California Program for Environmental and Regional Equity to complete the report.

By 2040, 74 percent of Minnesota’s population growth will come from people of color. In the last decade, rural Minnesota had a 75 percent growth in people of color versus 40 percent in urban areas. College-educated workers of color earn 9 percent less than Caucasian workers. Fifty-one percent of Minnesota jobs will require at a minimum an Associate degree, yet only 33 percent of Latino, 25 percent of black and 20 percent of Hmong and Native American Minnesotans have attained this educational level.

The report documents that the opportunity cost of lost gross domestic product in Minnesota totaled $16.4 billion in 2011 due to racial income gaps, and that figure will rise to $18.3 billion by 2015 if the gaps continue growing.

The report offers three concrete recommendations to move the state on a positive economic trajectory for all: 1) grow good jobs, 2) prepare youth and workers of color for tomorrow’s jobs, 3) dismantle racial barriers and expand access to opportunities. 

Learn more

*Report Supporters: Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Nexus Community Partners, Northwest Area Foundation, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs