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Health Equity Organizing

Health Equity Organizing Initiative IAF Northwest

Since 2009, the IAF Northwest and its affiliated Alliances have been organizing health sciences students and professionals to apply IAF organizing methodology to confront the social determinants of health.

Locations for this work currently include:

  • Six health sciences schools at the University of Washington, Seattle
  • Swedish Family Medicine Residency Cherry Hill
  • WSU Riverpoint, Spokane
  • Oregon Health and Science University, Portland
  • National College of Natural Medicine, Portland


HEC Summit Cropped

Health Equity Circle Summit, 2015


Health Equity Circles

Students in Seattle, Spokane, and Portland have all organized Health Equity Circle chapters - student organizations within the universities devoted to organizing around the social determinants of health.   Health Equity Circles utilize IAF organizing practices and are members of the Alliances in their areas.

Being a part of an Alliance provides students who will be entering professions in health fields an opportunity to learn organizing skills and concepts, as well as participate in both campaigns of their own and Alliance-wide campaigns in order to develop their civic voices.

Health sciences students in Seattle and Spokane successfully organized to offer a for-credit health equity organizing and leadership class at their campuses, taught in collaboration by Health Equity Circle and the IAF Northwest Alliances.  Over the last few years, over 105 students have completed training.


Health Equity Circle members in Seattle organized a successful 100 person Assembly on Homelessness


Swedish Family Medicine Residency Cherry Hill

Residents from the Swedish Family Medicine Residency Cherry Hill in Seattle underwent a year of organizing and leadership training as a means to addressing the social determinants of health.  The results were positive, and the program decided to join the Sound Alliance (its local affiliate), and incorporate IAF leadership training into their standard residency curriculum.

In the coming year, residents will be working in the clinics where they are placed to engage patients in identifying and acting on issues they most frequently name as impacting their well-being (and by extension, their long-term health).

Spokane kick off cropped

Health Equity Circle kick off in Spokane, 2015


Collaboration between universities, students, patients, health professionals and Alliance member institutions has added an important dynamic to Alliance work, and the IAF Northwest and its affiliates are looking forward to continuing to take advantage of the opportunities possible with this partnership.

If interested in learning more, email