The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), with the input and involvement of diverse community leaders across the country, created and piloted a model for developing Community-Driven Health Equity Action Plans. The model provides a framework for communities to create an action plan in seven steps to advance health equity locally. The model and pilot community plans offer insights to groups looking to develop a targeted strategy to promote health equity in their communities.

Health equity means everyone has a fair shot at living the healthiest life possible, and identifying strategies to advance health equity is the mission of the NAM’s Culture of Health Program (CoHP). In 2017, as part of the CoHP, the NAM visited communities across the country to understand their goals and programs to advance health equity. Based on learnings from these communities and scientific evidence from consensus reports by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the NAM developed a model for developing Community-Driven Health Equity Action Plans. The model serves to elevate community voice and expertise, reflect the diversity of communities, and focus on multi-sectoral and multilevel collaborations and approaches to advancing health equity.

Five community teams piloted the NAM model to identify pathways to support equitable good health among local residents:

  • The Gorge Health Equity Collaborative, located in the Columbia Gorge region of Oregon and Washington, plans to help local agencies develop a better understanding of equity, assess and understand where each agency is on its journey toward equity, and identify supports and resources to adopt equitable policies and practices.
  • The Magnolia Community Initiative located in Los Angeles, California, plans to co-design a community wellness survey with resident leaders to capture residents’ perceptions of their neighborhood context to effectively evaluate the impact of their current strategies on population health outcomes.
  • The United Way of San Antonio and Bexar Country, located in San Antonio, Texas, plans to work with multisector partners to improve the well-being of children ages 0 to 8 by preventing child abuse and increasing access to prenatal care.
  • WE ACT for Environmental Justice, located in Harlem, New York, plans to create a bi-directional understanding between hospitals, community-based organizations, and community members about opportunities for distributing and maximizing hospital community benefit dollars to better serve community needs.
  • The Williamson Health and Wellness Center, located in Williamson, West Virginia, plans to launch a collaborative, community-driven planning process to foster shared leadership and increase buy-in from community representatives, partners, and stakeholders to reduce health inequities in their community.


Over the course of 18 months, the NAM served as a facilitator for the communities’ work, offered support as teams explored unique opportunities and barriers they face in advancing health equity at the community level, and connected teams to technical assistance from field leaders. Ultimately, each community team used the model to develop a targeted strategy to address a priority of their communities.

The Community-Driven Health Equity Action Plans are uniquely designed by communities, for communities, and can serve as detailed examples for groups seeking to address health inequities locally. Learn how to lay the groundwork to take action on a health equity agenda by accessing the model and example plans at

To learn more about the Culture of Health Program, visit

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