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New Report from Saint Louis University Reveals the Benefits of Jurisdictions Working with Racial Equity Tools.

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The research found 107 jurisdictions across the United States using racial equity tools.

After two and half years of investigating, Saint Louis University’s Center for Health Law Studies and Institute for Healing Justice and Equity  have released the report, Governmental Use of Racial Equity Tools to Address Systemic Racism and Social Determinants of Health, funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Policy for Action program. 

Ruqaiijah Yearby and Sidney Watson

Professors Ruqaiijah Yearby and Sidney Watson were the lead authors on the report that was the product of two and half years of team research.

Researchers studied a group of 107 pioneering cities and counties that has been working with national groups, such as the Governmental Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) and PolicyLink, to address systemic racism and social determinants of health (SDOH). These groups use racial equity tools to offer a means by which policymakers can normalize conversations about race, operationalize new behaviors and polices, and organize to achieve racial equity.

“Until now, no one has catalogued jurisdictions working with racial equity tools created by national organizations,” said Ruqaiijah Yearby, the first author of the report, executive director of the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity and a professor in the School of Law’s Center for Health Law. “In this report, we begin filling the gaps by identifying jurisdictions working specifically with GARE and PolicyLink and discussing how these jurisdictions are addressing systemic racism and SDOH in their communities.”

Along with Yearby, the report was authored by Sidney Watson, Jane and Bruce Robert Professor and director of the School of Law’s Center for Health Law Studies; Keon Gilbert, associate professor of behavioral science and health education, College of Public Health and Social Justice and co-founder of the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity; Charysse Gibson, biostatistician, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity; Crystal N. Lewis, public health law and policy analyst, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity; Nicole Strombom, SLU law alum and doctoral public health student, Washington University in St. Louis; Katherine Stamatakis, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, College of Public Health and Social Justice.

The team worked to assess the types of equity tools being used, the tool source, the duration of the tool use, community engagement, the focus of law and policy changes, and advocacy strategies for change.

“Asian, Black, Indigenous, and Latino Americans die earlier, have higher infant mortality rates, and suffer more chronic conditions and disability than most white Americans,” said Sidney Watson. “These health inequalities are due to systemic racism and the social determinants of health. Through our research, we have found that critically looking at, addressing directly and advocating for policies that impact these areas can create meaningful change.”

Read the full report here

About the Center for Health Law Studies

Established in 1982, Saint Louis University School of Law's Center for Health Law Studies was one of the first law school programs to focus on the intersection of the health care system and the legal system. The Center has earned the reputation as the nation's premier health law program and prioritizes a thoughtful approach to partnerships in academia, the legal community, and community health organizations to create a foundation for progress.

About the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity

The Institute for Healing Justice and Equity (IHJE) is a multidisciplinary group of faculty, staff, collaborators, and partners working together to eliminate disparities caused by systemic oppression through systems change and deep community partnership. Through research, training, community engagement, and public policy development, the Institute focuses on building equitable communities by assessing and promoting best practices that foster healing from social injustice, trauma, and oppression. The IHJE is a Big Ideas initiative of the Saint Louis University Research Institute at Saint Louis University (SLU).