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.
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.
*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