Leveraging Health Opportunity and Equity:

Using Health Data to Improve the Quality of Life in Communities of Color Across the Country by Fostering a More Equitable Pandemic Recovery




As the devastating twin effects of COVID-19 and global social injustice disrupted populations, the MacArthur Foundation sought to stabilize and sustain the critical work being completed by the non-profit sector. Their $125 million Equitable Recovery initiative was created in 2020 to bolster philanthropic practices and allow practitioners to design and implement innovative approaches to meet the broad challenges faced by families and individuals nationwide, especially in Black & Brown communities that historically have been under-resourced.

The National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) received an $800,000 grant to assist local jurisdictions in leveraging the extraordinary health data collected under the Health Opportunity and Equity (HOPE) Initiative. The HOPE state-of-the-art platform supports a new narrative on health inequities and provides achievable pathways for states to eliminate health disparities. The comprehensive data on populations of color is a critical resource for policymakers, as well as the medical and public health fields.

The groundbreaking HOPE research dramatically changed the disparity narrative: instead of merely identifying health disparities, HOPE pinpoints where resources must be directed to make meaningful and lasting changes. NCHE compiled comprehensive population health research, including disaggregated data on people of color across the country. Through state data, HOPE tracked 27 life and community indicators that shape health and well-being for families and individuals including social and economic factors, community and safety conditions, physical environment and access to healthcare.

HOPE sets aspirational, yet achievable, goals (HOPE Goals) based on the best outcomes achieved in states that are leading to show what is possible. It measures the progress (Distance to Goal) that each state must make to improve conditions and close equity gaps by race and ethnicity. Aspiring and working toward achieving the HOPE Goals for all people in every state can pave the way for measurably moving the needle on achieving health equity.

HOPE data portrays an America after the Reckoning on Race succeeds, jettisoning racism from our society. With racial bias eliminated, HOPE helps us envision a nation where everyone experiences equal social, economic and health opportunities. In an unbiased universe, for instance, 70 million more people would live in low poverty neighborhoods; 55 million more adults would live in households with a livable income; and 54 million more adults would achieve very good or excellent health. It provides a baseline of how racial and ethnic population groups fare on a broad set of conditions central to health.

“HOPE research delivers a narrative that compels corrective action at multiple societal levels” says Dr. Gail Christopher, the NCHE executive director. “It creates a new opportunity frame that brings actionable data and information to help states and the nation move beyond measuring disparities to compelling action to achieve health equity. Disparities during the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrate the urgent need for health equity.”

NCHE’s Leveraging HOPE initiative is the next step. Funded by the MacArthur Foundation Equitable Recovery, NCHE is working with cities and counties on deploying the data to improve local health outcomes. Getting HOPE research into the hands of local change makers requires a collaborative strategy that unites regional, state and local capabilities, as well as private sector and non-profit energy and resources. This project will leverage the millions invested in HOPE by helping to create the infrastructure needed to amplify this opportunity for achieving health equity in communities across America.

On this website, you will learn more about how civic and community leaders are working to use data collected on their states to enhance the quality of life for their residents.



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