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KANKAKEE – The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the health inequities facing communities throughout Illinois. Five organizations in portions of Kankakee and Will Counties represented by State Senator Patrick Joyce have been awarded funding to implement health equity strategies, he announced Thursday.  

“The pandemic showed us firsthand the inequity and inequality in our health care system,” said Joyce (D-Essex). “This program will help combat the health equity gaps taking place in all corners of our state.”

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.

Between Joyce’s district in Kankakee and Will counties, five organizations will receive funding to address systemic health disparities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic: Kankakee County Health Department, Coordinated Care Alliance in Kankakee and Will counties, Will County Health Department and Junior Medic LLC.

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 is targeting disadvantaged communities that are struggling to bounce back,” said Joyce. “Through these grant opportunities and community efforts, the state is seeing strides in healing post-pandemic.”

To learn more about the ARISE initiative, people can visit