Open Submissions

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A Letter from the Indigenous Advisory Panel 


We are the Indigenous Advisory Panel for the Health Equity Zone for Native Communities. We come from many different tribes and geographies across Washington state and have a shared commitment to fostering the well-being of our Native relatives throughout the state. 

Through a collaborative effort with the Washington Department of Health, we have been honored to design a funding opportunity specifically for Native communities. The process we have designed takes a strength-based approach, honors Indigenous practices, and lays a framework for government entities to better collaborate with Native communities. Our hope is that as leaders and organizers, you are inspired to collaborate with one another and exchange ideas for culturally relevant strategies that will contribute to the health of our communities. 

As you complete the form, we invite you to consider that we, as Indigenous peoples, are the "practice-based evidence" and that contrary to the framework of evidence-based practice, our Native communities are the evidence needed to develop strategies that improve health outcomes. We are confident that together, we can enhance existing efforts in our communities and bring forth tailored strategies that resonate with the diverse needs of our Native communities. 

Your participation is crucial in ensuring the success of this initiative, and we look forward to witnessing the positive transformations that will unfold as a result of our combined efforts. 

Thank you for your interest in the Health Equity Zone for Native Communities. 



The HEZ Indigenous Advisory Panel 

Health Equity Zone for Native Communities

The submission form closed on Sunday, June 9th, 2024, at 11:59 PM PST.  

Information & Workshop Online Sessions 

Information and workshop sessions wereheld on the following dates to provide an overview the HEZ Initiative, the Zone for Native Communities submission form, and the selection process. HEZ staff and Indigenous Advisory Panel members will be available to answer questions.  

  • April 2 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM

  • April 18 from 12:00 – 2:00 PM

  • May 8 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM (upcoming)

  • May 23 from 12:00 - 2:00 PM (upcoming)

A recording from the April 18, 2024 session is available.
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Community-Driven Solutions for Health Equity 

Health Equity Zones is a community-driven initiative, created from the understanding that people who are most impacted by health inequities are closest to the solutions that will improve their health. 
This initiative, created by legislation, supports a unique approach for the Washington State Department of Health to collaborate with community through participatory decision-making and innovative funding structures. Through the initiative, the Department of Health will collaborate with the selected health equity zones as they identify pressing health concerns, develop strategies that address their unique needs and strengths, and implement projects to improve the health of their community. 

The Health Equity Zones Community Advisory Council, comprised of Native, community, and sector leaders, established the foundation and vision for the Health Equity Zones Initiative. Native community representatives on the Community Advisory Council formed a Zone for Native Communities Subcommittee to develop submission guidelines, which includes a zone definition, eligibility criteria, and selection process. The subcommittee invited input on the selection process from Native leaders in Washington and led recruitment of an Indigenous Advisory Panel reflective of Tribal and Urban Native communities from across the state. The Indigenous Advisory Panel will review the submission forms and select the Health Equity Zone for Native Communities. 

The submission form for the Health Equity Zone for Native Communities opened on March 18, 2024. Tribal and Urban Native communities from across Washington are encouraged to apply. One community will be selected by the Indigenous Advisory Panel in this pilot phase of the Initiative. 
The selected community will receive flexible funding of $200,000 per year for two years that can be used towards developing organizational infrastructure to support community decision-making, identifying health priorities, and developing culturally relevant strategies. The Department of Health is committed to supporting the zone in securing additional funding that aligns with the identified health priorities to implement community selected strategies. 


Health Equity Zone for Native Communities Selection Process 

The following process was designed by the Indigenous Advisory Panel in collaboration with DOH staff. Please read the definition, eligibility criteria, selection criteria, and data commitment thoroughly.  

Prior to submission, please review this checklist to ensure that you have fully completed the submission form. 


Zone For Native Communities Definition 

An opportunity for Tribal communities and Urban Native communities in a zone to continue to strengthen health through culturally relevant approaches. The zone will be a geographically self-defined and connected area, that is small enough for focused strategies to have a measurable impact on health outcomes. For example, ancestral homelands, defined tribal lands, a city, town, zip code, or neighborhood. 


Eligibility Criteria 

The submitter must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the Zone for Native Communities: 

  • Represent a Tribe (federally and non-federally recognized), Tribal Organization, Urban Indian Organization, or Collaborative of these entities. 

  • Identify as a Native-led entity. 

  • Use a community-driven approach. 

  • Serve and prioritize the Native population. 


Selection Criteria 

After the submission form closes on June 9, 2024, the Indigenous Advisory Panel will review the completed submissions and utilize the following criteria to select the Health Equity Zone for Native Communities. 

This table shows bullet point lists of criteria grouped by category in the first column and the possible points assigned for each category in the second column.

Criteria Categories

Maximum Score

Honors & Respects Indigenous Sovereignty 

  • Engaged the community in the decision to be considered as a health equity zone.   

  • Illustrates broad reaching support from community members and organizations serving and are part of the proposed community.  

  • Identifies approaches to challenge systems and policies in support of individual and Tribal Sovereignty. 


Multigenerational Vision 

  • Includes reference to a story or example about engaging youth and elders in their work.   

  • Demonstrates a visionary perspective to improve health for future generations. 


Grows Relations & Connections 

  • Describes existing or potential partnerships in the community, including coalitions, collaboratives, grassroots formations, and/or community councils and working groups.   

  • Describe a vision for more connectedness across systems, sectors, or organizations. 



  • Describes the community, including key characteristics and strengths.  

  • Includes reference to a story or example that highlights key characteristics and strengths of the community.  

  • Identifies equity gaps to be addressed and how community strengths can be used to support. 


Rooted in Indigenous Knowledge 

  • Describes an idea for a proposed project and approaches that the submitter is excited about. 

  • Includes reference to a story or example that speaks to the impact of existing efforts to improve community health. 



This box shows the scoring scale and what each number value represents.
Scoring Scale
0 = Criteria Not Met
1 = Criteria Partially Met
2 = Criteria Met
3 = Criteria Exceeded


Technical Assistance and Resources 

The Washington State Department of Health and the Indigenous Advisory Panel will provide technical assistance during the submission form process. This includes resources to support submitters in completing the submission form and opportunities to participate in virtual information and workshop sessions. Document links and more information about technical assistance can be found below. 

Frequently Asked Questions  - Last updated on 3/18/2024.

Optional checklist to review form before submission

Submissions in any format (written, audio, or video) will be accepted. Submission forms received in languages other than English will be translated for review and scoring. A third-party review will be used to ensure accuracy of translated responses. To submit your submission form in a language other than English, please email it to with the subject line “submission form.” 

To request the submission form and technical assistance resources in a language other than English, please email Translation takes 2-3 weeks to complete. The deadline for translation requests is May 1st, as the submission Form will close three weeks after.  

Data Commitment 

The Health Equity Zones Initiative is committed to honoring the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples to govern the collection, ownership, and application of their own data. 

The following statements describe how the information provided in submission forms will be used, protected, and stewarded to support submitters in self-determining what information to share. 

“The information you provide in this submission form will only be used for the purposes of zone selection by a review panel of Native-identifying individuals. All submission forms will be stored securely using cloud services and protected by encryption. Information will be deleted one year after zone selection per state agency retention policy. As a state agency, we are subject to public records requests, which means information provided in submission forms could be made available to the public if it were requested. 

To maintain transparency during the submission process, we will provide ongoing updates on the total number of submissions received. Submitters can choose to opt in to share additional information for the purposes of collaboration with other submitters from the same community or geographic area. This is completely optional and will not affect your submission form review.”