Health Equity Zones

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Health equity zone initiative

Rhode Island's Health Equity Zone (HEZ) Initiative


To build a healthy and resilient Rhode Island by investing in communities and their capacity to affect change, honoring the expertise of those who live and work in those communities, and challenging the systems and structures that perpetuate health inequities.

What is Rhode Island’s Health Equity Zone Initiative?

Rhode Island’s Health Equity Zone (HEZ) initiative is an innovative approach to improving well-being. It brings people together to build strong, resilient communities so all Rhode Islanders have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible, no matter who they are or where they live.

What Does Rhode Island’s HEZ Initiative Do?

Through Rhode Island’s HEZ initiative, the State of Rhode Island supports opportunities for community members and partners to collaborate on shared goals. Their efforts are creating thriving communities by:

  • Strengthening community leadership in planning and budgeting processes,
  • Improving access to healthy food, safe, affordable housing, green spaces, transportation, economic opportunity, and quality education,
  • Fostering new partnerships and opportunities for collaboration,
  • Preventing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring communities are prepared for other future challenges and emergencies,
  • Connecting people to substance use treatment and recovery, healthcare, behavioral health, and preventative services, and supporting the wellbeing of frontline staff,
  • and so much more.

Learn More About the Impact of Rhode Island’s HEZ Initiative.

HEZ Highlights

Newport Video Zoning for Equity in Newport's North End - 2022 RI Smart Growth Policy Award

On May 11, 2022, with the support of Newport HEZ and GrowSmartRI, a group of North End residents secured unanimous support from the Newport City Council for zoning ordinance amendments that prioritize the needs of people living in communities affected by development projects, preserving their neighborhood and transforming public policy in the City of Newport.

Why Does it Matter?

Did you know that most of what affects health happens outside the doctor's office? Things like where we live, go to school and work, the quality of our education, and the foods we have access to impact us much more than our genes, personal choices, and healthcare. These things are also called the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). The HEZ initiative focuses on improving SDOH to prevent people from getting sick and make life better for everyone.

Assistant Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Ana P. Novais, describes what drives health outcomes.

Learn More About How Health Equity Zones are Making a Difference.

How Does Rhode Island’s HEZ Initiative Work?

Health Equity Zones (HEZs) are specific areas throughout the state where collaboratives of community stakeholders, organizations, and residents have formed to address issues that are most important to them. Through a collective, community-led process, each HEZ:

  • Conducts a needs assessment,
  • Identifies priorities, and
  • Implements a data-driven action plan to address barriers to health.

Since 2015, Rhode Island’s HEZ initiative has supported community leaders and residents to form 15 Health Equity Zone collaboratives in communities across Rhode Island. RIDOH provides funding and support to ensure communities follow best practices for improving public health. This innovative model has been highlighted nationally to foster community leadership and advance equity.

Assistant Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Ana P. Novais, describes how Health Equity Zones work.

HEZ Training and Technical Assistance Program (TTAP)

HEZ TTAP delivers technical assistance and continuous support to HEZs. It organizes and hosts regular HEZ Learning Community events, where HEZs, community partners, and initiative stakeholders come together to share knowledge and learn collectively.

For more information, please contact Deb Golding at or Morgan Duffney at

Become a sponsor of HEZ TTAP. HEZ Initiative TTAP Sponsorship Guide

Get Involved

Find a HEZ near you and learn more about the work it’s doing in your community.