Advancing Health Equity - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Advancing Health Equity

Case Studies of Health Equity Practice in Four Award-Winning California Health Departments

Berkeley Media Studies Group

About this Resource
When to Use It
Things to Consider
Use this Resource

Practices Addressed

Go directly to this resource: Advancing Health Equity (PDF)


This resource presents four case studies, all of which received awards from the California Endowment for their efforts to advance health equity in their communities.

  1. Shasta County (pp. 5-15) focused on promoting college and career readiness through a program titled “Reach Higher Shasta,” after understanding that good education is fundamental to health. Shasta County is rural, politically conservative, and characterized by high unemployment, low income, and low educational attainment. Additional initiatives focused on job and workforce development.
  2. Sonoma County (pp. 16-24) is a medium-sized county with high tourism and overall above-average life expectancy, education levels, and median income. Yet, disparities exist in median income and child poverty. This case study describes the development of the county's Health Action framework, which outlines 10 goals for improving key indicators of health. It emphasizes the role of data to identify action steps, and how to frame data to reflect unmet potential.
  3. Los Angeles County (pp. 25-34) is a large, urban county in southern California, with high rates of violence and obesity in certain areas. Parks After Dark aims to advance health equity by reducing violence in the communities surrounding parks once known for drugs and heavy gang activity. Residents often avoided going outside for physical activity out of fear for their safety, which resulted in social isolation, adversely-influenced brain development, increased risk-taking behavior, and higher obesity rates. Outcome data documented decreased crime, increased physical activity and social cohesion, and return on investment.
  4. Alameda County (pp. 35-45) is geographically small, but is home to a large, ethnically diverse population with urban and suburban areas. This county's work focuses on the link between housing and health, including affordability, habitability, and access. For example, the county played a role in supporting rent reform, which capped rent increases for residents.

This resource closes with lessons learned across the health departments (pp. 47-50).


When to Use

​The diversity of communities represented in these case studies makes this resource useful to local health directors from a variety of jurisdictions. Whether urban or rural, small or large, there is an example for each.

If your jurisdiction is considering working on upstream social determinants of health, this resource provides insights.

The case studies may also be informative for people interested in potential outcomes or return on investment, making better use of data, building capacity for community engagement or collective impact, working at the policy level on social conditions that shape health, and who have operational questions related to organizing the work.


Things to Consider

This document is readable and easy to navigate. The reader can choose to focus on topics of particular interest. A good starting place is to review the Lessons Learned section, which outlines key factors related to advancing health equity work in health departments and in the community.


Use This Resource


Practices Addressed by This Resource

Img   Collect and use data for change
Img   Influence public policy