Some years ago, in reference to Georgia’s economy, the claim was made of the existence of two Georgias: one, the vibrant metropolitan areas of the state; the other, rural Georgia – described as its poor economic cousin. Today, this Two Georgias distinction applies to the growing disparities in health and health care between the metropolitan areas and rural communities, home to nearly 2 million Georgians.

In response to this growing disparity, Healthcare Georgia Foundation launched The Two Georgias Initiative in 2017, a multiyear, place-based grantmaking program designed to achieve health equity in rural Georgia. The goals of The Two Georgias Initiative are to foster health care innovation by supporting local coalitions seeking to address health disparities, improve health, and expand access to quality health care services. To achieve these goals, the social determinants of health are recognized as essential elements to address health inequities.

Over the past four years, The Two Georgias Initiative has pushed the foundation to think outside of the box in several ways and we have learned to:

  • Embrace equity. Equity is a way of thinking and acting that dismantles barriers, policies, and systems that prevents all members of a community from having an active role in what happens in their community.
  • Understand that change happens at the speed of trust. Many communities are distrustful of outsider’s and local leader’s intentions.
  • Contribute to best practices in measuring equity. Health equity-focused evaluations help determine if a program is reaching the underserved population that is experiencing inequities.
  • Explore other options besides grant funding. Impact investing is an untapped opportunity to expand and align resources with the causes of poor health, including the social determinants of health.
  • Take time to look at all the data. Yes, there is an abundance of data that exists for countless indicators. But is it broken down by county-level or census tract? Is it stratified by race, ethnicity, age, gender?

Read the full article about helping rural communities achieve health equity by Lisa Medellin and Samantha Bourque Tucker Grantmakers In Health.