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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Libraries are strong community-based assets that can play a role in addressing local conditions that often limit people from reaching their full health potential.
Austin Public Library received a grant in 2012 to develop a project that would connect people in the community and help them develop relationships that would endure beyond the life of the project. Staff held 40 cooking classes over a 12-month period and worked to increase the skills, knowledge and abilities of 400 households to cook healthy meals.
Staff shared information on healthy weights and diets, and exercise. Participants also learned how to use the library to get health information and to find out about local area programs and opportunities to promote healthy lifestyles. Additionally, the library also hosted a workshop on creating herb gardens that participants took home for their windowsills or porch steps.
Quote from one participant: "Thank you so much for the cooking classes. After the divorce, I just have nothing. The classes and the cooking materials have meant so much to me. I just really appreciate the opportunity to come here and learn something and get something valuable that I can use."
Public Libraries for Health is part of a larger health equity initiative that seeks to ensure that all Minnesotans have an equal opportunity to live a healthy life regardless of income, education, race and other socioeconomic factors that affect health.
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