Health Equity and the Role for Community Development

Articles | August 18 2016

Douglas Jutte, MD, MPH and Colby Dailey, MPP Directors, Build Healthy Places Network

Equity is a hot topic these days as our nation struggles with what is fair and just, and for whom. In philanthropy, equity is high on the agenda among major players, for example, the Ford Foundation, Kresge, Kellogg, the California Endowment, and many others. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s new push for a Culture of Health places health equity central to its goals.

Similarly, in public health we’ve seen health equity named as this year’s theme for the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO) and as a guiding priority for the American Public Health Association (APHA). This year’s Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) President’s Challenge is to “Advance Health Equity and Optimal Health for All.” And in the Community Development sector the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) frames equity like this: “We believe in opportunity for all. CDFIs—Community Development Financial Institutions —align capital with justice. We invest in opportunities and transform lives and places for disinvested people.”

So why do we believe that equity is fundamentally at the intersection of community development and health? Let’s start with some definitions. (Read more)