Health Equity Zones Initiative community nominations now open

Square drawing of a diverse and colorfully dressed group of people with text above introducing the HEZ Initiative

People statewide are invited to nominate their community as a HEZ (Health Equity Zones). The nomination period is open from March 13 - April 23. Each geographic area chosen as a HEZ will receive $200,000 per year for two years to identify health priorities and develop community action plans. DOH plans to extend funding opportunities beyond the initial two years.

The HEZ initiative, created by the Washington legislature in 2021, will pilot community-led projects in three “zones” – rural, urban, and Native communities – aiming to address each area’s most pressing health issues.

Where you live can directly impact your health. Some Washington communities have lower life expectancies, struggle with air pollution and other environmental concerns, or have fewer doctors or medical facilities. The HEZ initiative began to help people facing these and other health barriers.

The HEZ Community Advisory Council is a group of tribal, community, and sector leaders from across the state. The council designed the nomination process and will choose the rural and urban zones. Tribal community representatives will identify the zone for Native communities.

“This is an exciting new opportunity to create health programs led by community from the very beginning,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, Chief of Prevention, Safety, and Health. “People who live in under-resourced communities know best what is needed to improve health in their area. Health Equity Zones are a way to tap into that local knowledge and design lasting solutions.” Read the full DOH news release.