Please download this two-page overview of our Central Providence Health Equity Zone to learn how we are creating meaningful change by breaking down barriers to economic opportunity.
What is a health equity zone?
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) established Health Equity Zones (HEZs) in 2015 to improve community health in areas that need it most. HEZs are collaboratives of residents, community organizations, health professionals, and others who come together to address the root causes of health disparities. The HEZs work to ensure every neighborhood has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. This work requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, racism, and their consequences, including insufficient access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education, affordable housing, safe environments, and healthcare.
Why “Central Providence?”
The Central Providence Health Equity Zone is an extension of the Olneyville Health Equity Zone. The Olneyville HEZ was built on a foundation of more than a thousand hours of resident interviews, dozens of community events, and countless organizational meetings.
In 2019, we expanded our target area to include nearby neighborhoods (Hartford, Valley and Federal Hill) with similar characteristics but fewer community organizations to do the work and with this expansion, renamed ourselves the “Central Providence” HEZ (CP-HEZ). To ensure that our work remains rooted in community needs – we conducted a needs assessment in our new neighborhoods in 2019 -2020.
A Focus on Economic Opportunity
The Rhode Island Department of Health identifies five domains that affect health equity: 1) Integrated Healthcare, 2) Community Resilience, 3) Physical Environment, 4) Socioeconomics, and 5) Community Trauma. While many of these domains overlap, our HEZ is particularly focused on the Socioeconomic domain.
Life expectancy in central Providence neighborhoods is about 9 years less than that of residents from more socioeconomically advantaged neighborhoods of Providence. 50% of the factors that determine health have to do with economic and social conditions. Empirical research clearly shows that improving these conditions improves the health of Central Providence residents. When our neighbors are healthier, they will use less high-cost healthcare services. The savings realized by the healthcare system have the potential to be reinvested in actions that promote health.
Health Equity Projects
Health equity zones are community-based infrastructure designed for public health investments in neighborhoods without local health departments. With this intention, our HEZ has supported over a wide variety of health equity initiatives since our inception in 2015. While we have narrowed our focus to address economic opportunity, we continue to act as a resource and convener for a wide variety of public health projects.
Several of our most recent initiatives are:
Climate Resiliency: Neighborhood surveys indicated that most households were unprepared for a flood or natural disaster. In response, ONE|NB, Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, and Steer Media teamed up to create this emergency preparedness film which was showcased at schools and local community events.
Community Health Workers: Our Community Health Worker Registered Apprenticeship initiative has prepared six individuals to assist others in their community to overcome barriers to health. CHWs receive 144 hours of free education and on-the-job training.
21st Century Community Learning Center: ONE|NB and Brown University’s Swearer Center have come together to offer free after-school and school-vacation programming at Olneyville’s William D’Abate Elementary.
Our Partners Make This Possible
Childhood Lead Action Program
Providence Housing Authority
Farm Fresh Rhode Island
Manton Avenue Project
Center for Resilience
River Watershed Council
Providence Police Department
YouthBuild Prep Academy
YMCA of Greater Providence
Federal Hill House
The Steel Yard
The Autism Project
Integra (CARE New England)
Providence Community Health Centers
Family Service of RI
Community Action Partnership of Providence