Empowering Communities through Health Equity Zones

Data is in the Chicago Department of Public Health’s DNA. They collect, curate and share valuable data every day to drive deeper insights and empower creative strategies to close the racial life expectancy gap.

The Healthy Chicago Equity Zones initiative was launched as part of Healthy Chicago 2025, the City’s community health improvement plan. The plan calls upon the City and partners across sectors to support community organizations, particularly in Black and Latinx communities, as they take the lead on strategies that address the root causes of health inequities, including structural racism. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding for targeted vaccine outreach was allocated in the six Healthy Chicago Equity Zones first. Each Health Equity Zone is led by a regional or community organization that provides backbone financial, administrative, and project management support in their respective area while engaging multiple stakeholders to create and implement hyper local programs.

“The Healthy Chicago Equity Zone model is the city’s attempt to take some of what has been good with COVID – funding community-based organizations, working together on things like chronic disease,” Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health recently said in the Chicago Tribune. “Even in the year 2020, heart disease was still the number one thing that killed Chicagoans. COVID was number two and it goes from there.”

Data accessibility drives action

Chicago Department of Public Health recently launched an expanded Chicago Health Atlas that includes all six of the Healthy Chicago Equity Zones. With the Health Atlas, CDPH can safely share their own data and incorporate hundreds of other government datasets. The goal is to increase the ability of all community-based organizations to access and use data to identify disparities unique to their neighborhoods and create meaningful interventions.

What started as a grassroots COVID-19 vaccination campaign has evolved to confront factors that contribute to health and racial disparities, including healthcare and social service access, food access, housing conditions, community safety, and the physical and built neighborhood environment. All of this data for the Healthy Chicago Equity Zones can be accessed on the Chicago Health Atlas here.

Impact of health equity zones

Investments made through the Healthy Chicago Equity Zones address not just one specific need. Rather, they address the interconnectedness of economics, education, health and well-being to improve the stability of the community overall. By engaging organizations that have a vested interest in improving the conditions in the community everyone wins.

Would you like to take a more data-driven approach to improving health equity in your communities? Metopio can help provide the data to back up your strategy. Schedule a call to learn more and get started.

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