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The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced that it is soliciting proposals from qualified municipalities and non-profit community-based organizations to expand Rhode Island’s Health Equity Zone (HEZ) initiative to additional communities. R
According to RIDOH, Rhode Island’s Health Equity Zone initiative takes a health equity-centered approach to public health that leverages place-based, community-led solutions to address the social determinants of health – the surrounding physical, social, and economic environment, such as access to affordable, healthy foods; high-quality education; employment opportunities; and safe neighborhoods – that impact up to 80% of health outcomes and create health disparities.
RIDOH will distribute approximately $1 million through this funding opportunity. Existing Health Equity Zones seeking to expand their geographical boundary, and new communities seeking to create Health Equity Zones, can both apply for funding.
“Every Rhode Islander, in every ZIP code, should have the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible, in the healthiest community possible,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH in a statement included in a press release. “A key feature of our Health Equity Zone initiative is that it puts the community’s voice front and center, since residents understand the challenges facing their communities the best. For example, throughout the COVID-19 crisis, our Health Equity Zones have been integral partners in assessing unique needs and identifying equitable solutions for some of our most at-risk Rhode Islanders. We are thrilled to expand this opportunity to additional communities here in Rhode Island.”
Funded communities will build a diverse collaborative to conduct a needs assessment to inform a data-driven action plan for addressing the factors that keep people in their neighborhoods from achieving their full potential. RIDOH will provide seed funding and support to ensure communities implement the HEZ model in line with core public health principles.
Rhode Island currently has 11 Health Equity Zones in communities across the State, with at least one in every county. Existing Health Equity Zone collaboratives include residents, diverse community-based organizations, business owners, municipal and State elected officials, transportation and planning experts, youth-serving organizations, educators, health professionals, peer recovery specialists, behavioral health community outreach coordinators, and people in many other fields who are coming together in their distinct communities to address the most pressing concerns in their neighborhoods.
Proposals from communities seeking to create new or expand current Health Equity Zones are due to the State by March 19, 2021. The initial contract period will begin in approximately July 2021 and continue for one year. Contracts may be renewed for up to four additional 12-month periods, similar to previous years, based on vendor performance and the availability of funds.
To learn more about Rhode Island’s Health Equity Zone initiative, visit health.ri.gov/hez.
This story was originally published on March 5, 2021.