The National REACH Coalition launches the Health Equity Leadership & Exchange Network

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At the 2014 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Spring Health Braintrust, the National REACH Coalition (NRC) in collaboration with Morehouse School of Medicine and the National Collaborative for Health Equity announced the launch of the Health Equity Leadership & Exchange Network (HELEN) – A Campaign to Advance Health Equity.

The HELEN initiative, funded by a grant from the Aetna Foundation, establishes a forum to bolster leadership development and the exchange of ideas and information among communities of color to advance racial and ethnic health equity in laws, policies, and programs. The HELEN project is the first component of a larger comprehensive engagement and leadership development program being established by the NRC to achieve health equity and strengthen the evidence base for informing health laws, policies, and programs that affect the lives of racial and ethnic minority communities. “The HELEN Project provides another level of skill building focused on policy analysis to assist communities in determining and implementing, health equity policies that are useful, relevant, and effective,” said Cathy Morales, NRC Program Director and HELEN Project Administrative Lead.

Through this collaboration, the NRC, Morehouse School of Medicine, and the National Collaborative for Health Equity will combine their expertise in community-led initiatives to develop and implement policies and programs that promote racial and ethnic health equity. “The HELEN project will include members of various organizations, coalitions and associations committed to the elimination of health disparities and serve as a national forum for health equity champions to share information about timely, relevant and pressing policy issues impacting health equity,” said Daniel E. Dawes, J.D., Executive Director for Government Relations, Health Policy and External Affairs at Morehouse School of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the HELEN Project. “As the United States moves towards increased access to health care through the Affordable Care Act, the HELEN project provides a unique and timely opportunity to identify, develop and implement policies and laws that further advance health equity for vulnerable populations,” said Brian Smedley, PhD., Co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity and Co-principal investigator. HELEN Project participants will have access to in-depth, real-time analysis, fact sheets, briefs, and information on health equity laws, policies, and programs at the federal and state levels. Thus, health champions will gain a greater understanding of the economic and legal impact of existing and proposed policies, as well as the ability to better define the challenges in advancing health equity.

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