HIGHWOOD – The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the health inequities facing communities throughout Illinois. Three organizations in Lake County have been awarded funding to implement health equity strategies, State Senator Julie Morrison announced Wednesday.


“Prioritizing accessibility and inclusivity in our health care realm became even more vital during the pandemic,” said Morrison (D-Lake Forest). “As chair of the Senate Health Committee, I have seen firsthand the need to close health equity gaps in Illinois. The ARISE program is a great step toward improving the health and well-being in our communities that have long suffered care inequities.”

Activating Relationships in Illinois for Systemic Equity (ARISE) is a joint initiative of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Center for Minority Health Services and The Center for Rural Health, in collaboration with Well-Being and Equity (WE) in the World.

Lake County’s Black and Brown Coalition for Health Equity, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, and Islamic Alliance to Advance Health Equity in Lake County are three of the 18 organizations across Illinois awarded funding to address systemic health disparities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ARISE intends to support socio-economically disadvantaged and historically marginalized communities outside of Cook County that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Further, organizations will be able to address enduring health inequities in their communities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The selected ARISE Community Equity Zone communities will engage in a rigorous “learning-and-doing” capacity building program to advance health equity in the short, medium and long term. The community coalitions will address inequities in mental, physical and social well-being in communities that are experiencing the brunt of these disparities by connecting people to vaccinations, food, and other well-being needs. They will also address underlying community needs such as humane housing, reliable transportation, and the root causes of these inequities, including racism and poverty.

“This initiative implements a strategy that will combat preexisting health inequities made worse by the pandemic,” said Morrison. “Through collaborative community efforts, we can put the state on a path toward greater post-pandemic healing.”

To learn more about the ARISE initiative, people can visit www.weintheworld.org/arise-project.