Nearly one-fifth of Americans live in low-income communities with fewer opportunities to achieve healthy and rewarding lives. Today we know that factors related to health, employment, education, housing, and neighborhoods are linked. Place matters and in many cases your zip code is more important than your genetic code in determining your health.
Our neighborhoods shape the opportunities we have, and those opportunities shape the choices open to us around our health and wealth. Many of these neighborhoods have been shaped by the impact of systemic racism and historically exclusionary policies. Since many of the root causes of poverty and poor health are the same, coordinated action is needed to increase investments that will support building communities where all people can live healthy and prosperous lives.
Each institution must ask itself what role they will play in removing barriers to achieving equity and explicitly maintain race, equity, diversity and inclusion at the core of this cross-sector work. We must tackle racist and exclusionary policies and practices that perpetuate health disparities. Advancing the shared goals of racial justice is essential for cross-sector collaborations to successfully impact the root causes of the health inequities we see today in historically marginalized communities, both urban and rural.
It helps ensure that communities, especially those such as historically marginalized BIPOC communities, are the beneficiaries of community level improvements, building community resilience, and removing barriers to prosperity.
We are always looking for talented people to help us build healthy places.
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Our work builds on the Healthy Communities Initiative, a multi-year effort led by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to deepen cross-sector collaboration. This series of conferences at regional Federal Reserve Banks around the country bring leaders from across sectors together to examine how where people live, learn, work and play affects health. Over 35 Healthy Communities conferences have been convened around the country since 2010.
Our work is guided by the 2014 recommendations of the RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America, which called for action to “support and speed the integration of finance, health and community development to revitalize neighborhoods and improve health.”