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(23) Grab the brass ring: partnerships that use a racial equity lens to improve social determinants AND generate funds for staff


Kirsten Wysen, MHSA – Policy Analyst, Public Health - Seattle & King County


What are the benefits to local health departments of participating in multi-sector community-led public private partnerships aiming to create healthy communities? While the benefits to the focus communities respond to Community Health Needs Assessments, the advantages and disadvantages to the local health department can be less clear. This presentation will share surprisingly strong benefits for a large local health department including substantial increases in funds for chronic disease prevention staffing. Public Health – Seattle & King County launched a public private partnership with Seattle Foundation in 2014 called Communities of Opportunity. The initiative aims to create greater health, social, economic and racial equity in King County so that all people thrive and prosper, regardless of race or place. The partnership has resulted in scores of measurable process improvements in the funded neighborhoods and organizations. Supportive community leaders were instrumental in securing a new source of public revenue for the initiative from a voter-approved property tax increase. These levy funds have been used to invest at least $6.5 million more per year for six years to further support focus neighborhoods and 10% of the new funds have supported new chronic disease prevention staff with close ties to these neighborhoods. While neighborhood improvements and policy changes were hoped for goals of the work, the new staff have made unexpected and meaningful changes within the department since they’ve been hired and we look forward with anticipation to the results of work they accomplish during their careers with the department.


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