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Pritzker Administration and IDPH Award up to $3.7 Million to Address Systemic Health Disparities Highlighted by COVID-19 Pandemic

News – Tuesday, October 18, 2022

SPRINGFIELD - Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced today that the state is awarding up to $3.7 million to 18 different organizations across Illinois to address systemic health disparities that have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The federally funded program called ARISE (Activating Relationships In Illinois for Systemic Equity) is a joint initiative of IDPH’s Center for Minority Health Services and The Center for Rural Health, in collaboration with Well-being and Equity (WE) in the World.   

“The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare that there are unacceptable disparities in health outcomes that fall on members of minority and rural communities,” said Governor Pritzker. “Our goal with the ARISE program is to work with trusted, community-based partners to take significant strides towards closing health equity gaps. In Illinois, we are committed to improving the health and well-being of people in communities who have suffered from systemic disparities for far too long.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic shined a harsh light on the persistent systemic inequities faced by our most vulnerable residents, particularly those in communities of color and in rural areas,” said IDPH Director Sameer Vohra.  “A virus that should have affected all geographies and demographics similarly did not, as communities of color and rural communities experienced higher COVID-19 related deaths, lower vaccine access, higher food insecurity, and greater loss of jobs and wealth.  The ARISE program continues IDPH’s efforts to strive for greater health equity by investing in these communities to improve health outcomes and create sustainable systemic change.”

The ARISE program is awarding funding from the CDC to 11 community collaborations and their associated local health departments, and seven other organizations, to support progress in implementing health equity strategies. The program uses a framework called Pathways to Population Health Equity, which has been developed by WE in the World and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO).

The community coalitions will address inequities in mental, physical, and social well-being in communities that are experiencing the brunt of these disparities by connecting people to vaccinations, food, and other well-being needs. They will also address underlying community needs such as humane housing, reliable transportation, and the root causes of these inequities, including racism and poverty.

The following community collaborations with their local health department partners and organizations, were selected for grants:

  • Lake County’s Black and Brown Coalition for Health Equity (Lake County Health Department)
  • Engaging Alton for Equity (Madison County Health Department)
  • Immigrant Cooperative (Champaign-Urbana Public Health District)
  • Clay County Health 4 Generations Coalition (Clay County Health Department)
  • ARISE for Will County (Will County Health Department)
  • HEART (DuPage County Health Department)
  • East Central Illinois Rural Healthcare Consortium (Ford County Health Department & Iroquois Health Department)
  • Quincy ARISE Coalition (Adams County Health Department)
  • ARISE Kankakee (Kankakee County Health Department)
  • Effingham Health Committee (Effingham County Health Department)
  • Juntos (McHenry County Health Department)
  • Junior Medic LLC (Will County)
  • YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago (Lake County)
  • Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc, Kappa Sigma Zeta Chapter (Sangamon County)
  • Coordinated Care Alliance (Alexander, Cass, Clay, Cumberland, Edwards, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hamilton, Hardin, Henderson, Jackson, Jefferson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, Lawrence, Marion, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Shelby, Wayne, White, Will counties)
  • Rainbow Cafe (Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Kane, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Wayne, White, Gallatin, Johnson, Perry, Randolph, Union, Williamson, Wabash counties)
  • Community Unit School District 300 (Kane & McHenry counties)
  • Islamic Alliance to Advance Health Equity in Lake County (IHEAL) (Lake County)

These ARISE community collaborations have begun to engage in a 10-month intensive “learning-and-doing” program designed to assist communities to achieve unprecedented results in improving the health and well-being of people and the community-at-large, closing equity gaps in adult vaccinations, and building the civic capacity and infrastructure for more systemic change.

“We have found that supporting trusted community groups who are from and know these communities is the best way to reach and address racial and economic barriers to health and well-being outcomes,” said Somava Saha, Executive Lead of WE in the World. “Many of these organizations are trusted but non-traditional – the Divine Nine sororities and fraternities, artists-activists, faith communities, community organizers that are working alongside local health departments.  These local organizations know best how to reach their neighbors and friends. With support, they can help to chart a path toward longer term healing and resilience in areas that have been hit hardest.”

“Through a coalition of strong community partners, the IDPH ARISE grant will allow the West Central Illinois community to better understand existing inequities and take action to better manage those challenges,” said Selena Stegeman from Quincy Medical Group and the Quincy ARISE Coalition. “This grant will benefit the entire community, with a focus on the most vulnerable.”

Follow #ARISE4Equity on social media to follow this work as it happens across Illinois. Find out more about the ARISE initiative here.