ISSUE 100 | March 19, 2021
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
Initiative to identify and reduce causes of health disparities
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is launching a new initiative to create five Regional Accountable Health Councils (RAHCs).

These RAHCs will examine geographic disparities in life expectancy and the social determinants of health, often caused by discriminatory practices like redlining.

The RAHCs will then draft regional health transformation plans to reduce those disparities.

Incentive program making a difference for inmate vaccinations 
Two of Pennsylvania’s 23 prisons have given COVID-19 vaccines to more than 70 percent of their inmates.

An incentive program by the Department of Corrections is partly responsible for this success.

It offers inmates a $25 credit to use on food, clothing, or other items if they get the vaccine.

This incentive was based on a previous program that encouraged flu vaccinations.

Five things to know about the minimum wage debate in PA
For the seventh year in a row, Governor Tom Wolf has called for a gradual minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $15.

A Spotlight PA article provides an overview of the minimum wage debate in Pennsylvania, and explains how it has changed due to the pandemic.

It also covers the growth of the gig economy, the debate at the national level, and other factors.

Research Spotlight: Interested in learning more about livable wages in the region? The Institute's 2019 study on this very subject analyzes living wages against poverty levels, and discusses challenges families face as they struggle to satisfy the cost of living modestly yet comfortably.

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
Five practices proposed for advancing racial justice
A group of 27 nonprofits in the fields of community development, arts, and culture recently collaborated to discuss how communities can advance racial justice and equity.

This Racial Equity Exploration and Discovery (REED) initiative identified a set of core practices, such as:

  • building power by shaping narratives

  • leveraging creativity to address difficult topics

  • working outside systems that are not working for people of color

Native communities face sustained challenges to financial resilience
A recent analysis found that majority-Native communities in the United States frequently struggle with financial challenges like high rates of delinquent debt, subprime credit, and a lack of access to financial services.

Policymakers may be able to address these barriers to financial stability by:

  • funding Native-owned financial institutions

  • providing opportunities for wealth-building

  • improving broadband access 

The role of business in promoting equitable access to food
A new brief from the Well Being In the Nation (WIN) Network focuses on the crisis of food insecurity in the United States and the potential role of businesses in improving access to healthy, affordable food.

Businesses can take actions such as:

  • providing healthy food options for employees

  • committing to cross-sector partnerships to improve food systems in their communities

  • advocating for improvements in government anti-hunger programs  

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