NCHE Receives MacArthur Foundation Grant to Improve Health Equity

Announcements | July 27 2021

NCHE Receives MacArthur Foundation Grant to Leverage State Data to Improve Health Outcomes in Local Communities Seeking Health Equity

HOPE Initiative Data Key to Spurring Effort to Address Local Social Determinants of Health

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) today was awarded an $800,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to assist local jurisdictions in leveraging health data that can help mitigate racial inequities in health outcomes, especially in communities of color.

As the leader of the Health Opportunity and Equity (HOPE) Initiative, 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.

The HOPE research, which was released last year on an accessible state-of-the-art platform, is a breakthrough because it creates a new narrative on health inequities and provides achievable pathways for states to eliminate health disparities. The HOPE Initiative changes the disparity narrative: instead of merely identifying health disparities, HOPE pinpoints where resources must be directed to make meaningful and lasting changes.

HOPE portrays an America that would be dramatically different if the impact of racism embedded in our society was eliminated and everyone experienced equal social, economic and health opportunities. 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.

“Our HOPE research delivers a narrative that compels corrective action at multiple societal levels,” said 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.”

Dr. Christopher thanked the MacArthur Foundation for the grant that comes under their equitable recovery funding. NCHE prioritizes working in partnership with their expanding network of collaborating leaders and organizations committed to achieving health equity.  With the grant, NCHE will expand the impact of the HOPE research by fueling a campaign to advise cities and counties on how the information can be deployed 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,” said Dr. Christopher.  “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.”

The MacArthur Foundation project will organize infrastructure that includes NCHE staff and national networks; implementation of equity policies and practices and related accountability approaches in cities and counties; periodic publications and briefs disaggregated by race and ethnicity based on data from states; related webinars, blogs, technical assistance tool kits and resources for use by local leaders.

The grant is part of roughly $80 million in awards MacArthur announced today in support of the foundation’s Equitable Recovery initiative, centered on advancing racial and ethnic justice. The initiative is funded by MacArthur’s social bonds, issued in response to the crises of the pandemic and racial inequity.

“As we emerge from this moment of crisis, we have an opportunity to improve the critical systems that people and places need to thrive. Our systems and structures must be rebuilt,” said MacArthur President John Palfrey. “We are committed to ensuring that our response to the pandemic is focused on supporting the reimagining of systems that create a more just, equitable, and resilient world.”

Led by the NCHE, the HOPE Initiative is a collaboration with Texas Health Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Center on Society and Health. The HOPE Initiative was created and funded through grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Here are some of the findings that the MacArthur grant will empower states address:

  • In Colorado, more than 434,000 Hispanics need improvements in economic opportunity and neighborhood conditions to lift them out of areas with concentrated poverty.
  • In Arizona, more than 200,000 of the 265,000 Native Americans in the state need to have improved economic opportunity and neighborhood conditions to lift them out of areas with concentrated poverty and more than 121,000 Native Americans need adequate access to food.
  • In Wisconsin, more than 205,000 African Americans need economic opportunities and improved neighborhood conditions to lift them out of areas with concentrated poverty.

“We will use the HOPE data to spur action addressing the social determinants of health in local communities,” said Dr. Christopher. “The HOPE Initiative is helping create a more just, fair and equitable pandemic recovery that helps address the effects of structural and systemic racism. “