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Public health leaders identify policies and practices that can advance health and racial equity

Date: Oct 06 2021

Contact: Media Relations

County and city leaders who are looking for practical ways to advance health and racial equity now have a new resource that can serve as a roadmap. The American Public Health Association, the de Beaumont Foundation and the National Collaborative for Health Equity today launched "Healing through Policy: Creating Pathways to Racial Justice," an initiative that offers local leaders a suite of policies and practices that are being implemented across the country to help advance health, racial equity and justice.

Many leaders are acknowledging racism as a public health crisis and are addressing systemic health and racial inequities through resolutions, executive orders and other mechanisms. And many are looking to see how other communities have taken the practical steps needed to move from commitment to action and the best ways to use policy to effect meaningful change. 

Gathered from a rigorous literature and environmental scan, the policies and practices can guide localities in their work and can be customized for community needs and priorities, as well as political and economic climates and structures. To be included, each policy or practice needed to:

  • Have been successfully implemented in at least one jurisdiction;
  • Show promise of impact on health and racial equity (via evidence or expert opinion);
  • Acknowledge and address historic racial injustices and demonstrate meaningful engagement of impacted communities; and
  • Be under local jurisdictional authority.

“Healing Through Policy reflects the most innovative solutions for achieving racial and health equity that have been implemented throughout the country, said Dr. Brian C. Castrucci, President and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation. “It is a privilege to share this diverse suite of policy and practice options with communities that are seeking meaningful change in the pursuit of racial justice.”

The literature and environmental scan of policies and practices is the first phase of the initiative. In future years, Healing Through Policy partners plan to offer technical assistance to local governments undertaking efforts to advance policies and practices in the suite. More information will be announced next year.  

“It takes more than talk to move the needle to become a healthier nation — we need action through policy change,” said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, Executive Director of APHA. “The policies and practices shared through Healing Through Policy have been used successfully to support lasting change. They have real potential to improve health and address inequities, and I encourage leaders and policymakers to customize them for their communities.”

Healing Through Policy uses the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) framework, a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. The TRHT framework and the sample policies and practices are organized in five pillars:

  • Narrative Change: Transforming how we communicate about our past, present, and future.
  • Racial Healing and Relationship Building: Recognition of the need to acknowledge the wrongs of the past, while addressing the consequences of those wrongs.
  • Separation: Historic and present-day land use and development decisions that perpetuate racial inequities, such as segregation, colonization and isolation, which lead to concentrated poverty and limit access to opportunity.
  • Law: The laws, legal systems, public policies, and accompanying practices and norms through which systemic racism has been and continues to be enforced at local, state and national levels.
  • Economy: Practices and policies that sustain the false belief in hierarchy, thus shaping access and opportunity.

“The TRHT framework initiates critical innovations that can foster and sustain transformational change in public policies and practices that are driving the social determinants of health and well-being,” said Dr. Gail C. Christopher, Executive Director of NCHE. “Healing Through Policy will bolster the expanding movement to eliminate racism and create racial justice. Further, it will raise awareness of the authentic voices of community change-makers who are driving the transformation taking place in our communities.’’

Healing Through Policy Advisory Committee
Donyel Barber, City of Gastonia (NC) City Council
Debbie Chang, BlueShield Foundation of California
Daniel Dawes, Satcher Health Leadership Institute, Morehouse School of Medicine
Senator Bill Frist, M.D., Bipartisan Policy Center Fellow
Angela Glover Blackwell, PolicyLink
Grace Hou, Illinois Department of Human Services
Dr. Anthony Iton, The California Endowment
Dr. Clarion E. Johnson, de Beaumont Foundation Board of Directors
Dr. Jeanette Kowalik, Trust for America's Health
Mitch Landrieu, former Mayor of New Orleans
La Quen náay Liz Medicine Crow, First Alaskans Institute
Dr. Jamila Porter, de Beaumont Foundation
Eduardo Sanchez, American Heart Association
Dr. Karen Smith, Consultant
Dr. Steven Woolf, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Virginia Commonwealth University

About the American Public Health Association

The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at

About the de Beaumont Foundation

The de Beaumont Foundation creates and invests in bold solutions that improve the health of communities across the country. Its mission is to advance policy, build partnerships, and strengthen public health to create communities where everyone can achieve their best possible health. For more information, visit

About the National Collaborative for Health Equity

The mission of the National Collaborative for Health Equity is to promote health equity by harnessing data, developing leaders, and catalyzing partnerships across the many different sectors that share responsibility for creating a more equitable and just society. Learn more at