Health Equity

IAF has a major commitment to supporting equity, particularly health equity. This is a trend that reflects the “maturing” of humanity. We have conducted many efforts on this topic with the three largest being the Health Equity and Prosperity (HEP) – An American Freedom and Justice Project, the Disparity Reducing Advances (DRA) Project, and the Culture of Health Equity (COHE) Network.

Jump to the Health Equity and Prosperity Project

Jump to the Culture of Health Equity Network

Jump to the Disparity Reducing Advances Project


Health Equity and Prosperity

How might multi-sector partnerships support a diverse movement to raise opportunities for everyone to pursue a healthier life? Who can engage in a conversation on health equity and prosperity that leads to vision and action? How do we reach and engage people who are not part of this conversation?

To explore these questions, IAF gathered a range of partners and launched the “Health Equity And Prosperity—An American Freedom and Justice Movement” project at a meeting at the historic Lincoln Cottage in Washington, D.C. on May 11, 2016. The Cottage is the site where President Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Act. This was followed by a larger convening at the University of Maryland, College Park, on August 4-5, 2016, where hundreds of leaders from different sectors and communities developed strategies for systems change and devised action plans for activating health equity networks in specific action areas, including health care, education, employment, housing, and community development. Lastly, in April 2017 we held a meeting with business executives and key anchor organizations already working on business engagement with population health, wellbeing and equity as a community-based strategy.

Major lessons that we learned along the way include (see the final report for more):

  • Start with the interests of the people we seek to recruit, rather than a definition or a position.
  • Use dialogue as a disciplined approach to bring different perspectives and information together into a larger context and shared orientation.
  • Pursue diversity among participants in terms of sector as well as geography, age, culture, race, and gender, and educational attainment.
  • Favor in-person events in inspiring places to engage and mobilize networks of people.
  • Ground dialogue by using stories to build shared language, experience, emotional connections.
  • Use Appreciative Inquiry to generate a psychologically safe space and offer a positive way for people to work together.
  • Use vision as an expression of individual meaning offered as a reflection of collective intention.

This project has successfully demonstrated that a diversity of leaders from multiple sectors can collaborate in sessions designed to use positive emotions. Our lessons presented in the final report speak to how we might build multisector partnerships, whom we engage in a conversation on health equity and prosperity, and how we can engage those who are not part of this conversation. Support for this project was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Final Report, including major lessons learned | View PDF


Previous Project Documents:

IAF News Release on Health Equity And Prosperity | View PDF

Partner’s Meeting for Health Equity And Prosperity | View PDF


Culture of Health Equity Network

The Culture of Health Equity Network initiative, led by Barbara Krimgold, provides information about research, policies, practices and advocacy to create and advance a culture of health equity. This Culture incorporates knowledge about the social determinants of health and health inequalities and promotes policies and interventions that reduce health inequalities and maximize health achievement for all populations. It focuses on the contribution of its network of junior and mid-level minority health researchers as well as leaders in the fields of public health and health equity, and other fields influencing the determinants of health and health inequities and inequalities. In 2015 it released its Conference report and Call-to-Action on the Social Determinants of Migrant Health.


The DRA Project

The Disparity Reducing Advances Project (the DRA Project) was a multi-year, multi-stakeholder project developed by the Institute for Alternative Futures (IAF) to identify the most promising advances for bringing health gains to the poor and underserved and accelerating the development and deployment of these advances to reduce disparities. The DRA Project has worked to overcome health disparities by targeting the advances with the highest potential for reducing health disparities and then creating a network of organizations committed to accelerating the development and deployment of those advances. The network includes health care systems and local providers, major Federal government agencies, technology developers, and consumer and patient organizations. The DRA Project has produced a series of reports on technology advances supporting health equity – the Biomonitoring Futures Project. Additionally in 2009 and 2011 we reviewed conference, recommendations, and activities reflecting the growth of the health equity movement. These publications are listed below.



10/20/09 The Social Determinants of Health, and Health in All Policies

The DRA Project in conjunction with the Congressional Black Congress Health Brain Trust held its fourth DRA Foresight Briefing on October 20th, 2009 in Washington, D.C. | View Summary


Foresight Seminars on Health Innovation, and Foresight Chronicles

The DRA Project Health Equity Foresight Seminars grew out of IAFs historic foresight seminars for congressional staff and policy makers. Beginning in 1978, IAF has organized more than 117 Foresight Seminars to provide Congress, executive agencies and the private sector a forum for looking to the future of health and innovation.

A list of selected seminars is available here.

Additionally, IAF’s Foresight Chronicles paper chronicles the forecasts and insights developed through these Foresight Seminars from 1978 through 1998.


2/25/09 Health Equity: Focusing on Health in All Policies

The DRA Project in conjunction with the Congressional Black Congress Health Brain Trust held its third DRA Foresight Briefing on February 25th, 2009 in Washington, D.C. | View Summary



Opportunities for Biomonitoring to Reduce Health Disparities – Report for the AMA Commission to End Health Care Disparities

The AMA Commission to End Health Care Disparities asked the DRA Project to develop a paper that identifies future opportunities in the emerging area of biomonitoring to reduce disparities. The paper, based on the findings and recommendations of the DRA Project’s biomonitoring component, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, reviews developments in testing platforms, applications in diabetes and cancer, key opportunities, caveats (e.g. understanding the limited role of biomonitoring), criteria for biomonitoring applications, and provides recommendations. | View Report


Report of the National Expert Panel on Social Determinants of Health Equity

IAF advised in the development of UNNATURAL CAUSES…is inequality making us sick? This report encapsulates the critical thinking, key arguments and recommendations of nationally recognized experts in the area of social determinants of health equity. | View Report


Biomonitoring Futures Project

With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, IAF developed the Biomonitoring Futures Project (BFP), which identifies trends in emerging biomonitoring technologies, explores them in the context of healthy living and prevention,and examines how they can reduce health care disparities particularly for cancer and diabetes. BFP also provides forecasts for future development and use of these technologies. The project outputs include the following:

Biomonitoring Platform Assessment Report | View PDF

Health Information Systems Report | View PDF

Final Report and Recommendations | View PDF


2009 State of the Health Equity Movement

In 2009, the DRA Project reached out to organizations around the nation to report on their activities that aimed to reduce health disparities, and developed its first set of reports on the state of the health equity movement:

09-01 Health Equity Policies: A Review of the Recommendations | View PDF

09-02 Health Equity Recommendations Selected Overview | View PDF

09-03 State of the Health Equity Movement Memo | View PDF


2011 State of the Health Equity Movement

11-01 Health Equity Movement Update Part A: Overview | View PDF

11-02 Health Equity Movement Update Part B: Catalog of Activities | View PDF

11-03 Health Equity Movement Update Part C: Compendium of Recommendations | View PDF