Place Matters’ Purpose

Eliminating Health Disparities By Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

PLACE MATTERS is a national initiative of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Health Policy Institute (  The initiative is intended to improve the health of participating communities by addressing social conditions that lead to poor health.Our national learning community consists of 19 PLACE MATTERS Teams responsible for designing and implementing health strategies for residents in 27 jurisdictions.  The Health Policy Institute provides technical assistance to participating Teams in the form of facilitation, ACTION Lab meetings (including national-level experts and peer-to-peer learning opportunities), technical assistance grants, and access to data.

Our approach to reducing health disparities involves identifying the complex root causes of health disparities and defining strategies to address them.  Addressing upstream causes of health (for example, employment, education, poverty, and housing) is at the core of our work.  With generous funding provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the PLACE MATTERS Initiative attempts to address social determinants through the work of the participating Teams.

Our Mission: Build the capacity of leaders and communities to identify and address social, economic, and environmental conditions that shape health and life opportunities.

Vision: Every community is socially and racially just and there are equitable opportunities for all.

What are Social Determinants of Health?

The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, including the health system. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resourcesat global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequitities–the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries.

Definition via the World Health Organization (WHO)