Public Infrastructure and Health Equity

A collection of references and creative solutions designed to inspire new policies and planning that shape equitable access to public infrastructure.

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Family with their bicycles in a crosswalk cross the street.

To build healthier communities, we need strong infrastructure in every neighborhood.


Infrastructure, or the physical attributes of a community, forms the building blocks of a community. It’s not just roads and bridges. It encompasses the systems that connect us to essential services—from affordable energy to power our buildings, to clean running water in our faucets and reliable broadband to get online—as well as critical neighborhood amenities like good transit and quality parks.

The infrastructure that a community has shapes the opportunities for health and well-being available to the people who live, learn, work and play there. But a long legacy of discriminatory policies and structural racism has created inequities in who does and doesn’t have access to adequate infrastructure. We can build health equity by bolstering our infrastructure and ensuring we are all surrounded by conditions that enable us to live the healthiest life possible.

Learn how impact investing builds on the Foundation's decades-long work changing systems and policies to improve community conditions for health, especially for those facing the greatest obstacles.

Featured Initiatives

Water Access and Quality

Reports by DigDeep and the US Water Alliance, the Environmental Policy Innovation Center, and the Environmental Defense Fund examine the gap in access to affordable and safe clean water.

Transportation Equity

The State of Transportation and Equity, a field scan by SmartGrowth America, dives into how transportation affects health equity in America.

Parks and Green Spaces

City Parks Alliance and the Urban Institute report on the most effective practices when investing in parks and green infrastructure in low-income communities.

Digital Prosperity

The Brookings Metropolitan Group takes an in-depth look at how broadband can deliver health and equity to all communities.

Green Infrastructure

The National Recreation and Parks Association outlines how to ensure equitable investment in green infrastructure in parks to protect communities from the harmful effects of climate change.

Energy Infrastructure

A Synapse Energy Economics, the Regulatory Assistance Project and Community Action Partnership report explores how to build an equitable clean-energy future.

Featured Resource

Public Infrastructure for an Equitable Future: Philanthropy’s Role

Onside Partners outlines the role philanthropy can play—alongside government, the private sector, and the civic sector—in advancing robust, equitable infrastructure.

Read the report

Related Content

Energy, Water and Broadband: Three Services Crucial To Health Equity

Blog Post

Imagine enduring the COVID-19 pandemic without running water, reliable internet or affordable gas and electricity. While many have faced this stark reality, communities nationwide are mobilizing to build health and equity into these services.

Why Neighborhoods—and the Policies that Shape Them—Matter

Blog Post

The Child Opportunity Index 2.0 uses data to map inequities in 72,000 neighborhoods in the U.S. to help researchers, city planners, community leaders and others identify inequities and take steps to address them.

How Does Transportation Impact Health?


Transportation is a critical factor that influences people’s health and the health of a community. An emphasis on walking, cycling and other alternative transportation options aims to boost health and well-being

Expanding Opportunities for Health in Small and Midsize Cities

Across America, many small and midsize cities are experiencing a resurgence—due, in part, to investments in green spaces and parks, upswings in local tech hubs, and downtown redevelopment.

How Will Technology Influence Community Health?

Blog Post

Examining how technology’s impact on infrastructure in the near future can improve health equity in the United States.

Four Ways to Build Healthy, Inclusive Places

Blog Post

Inclusive public spaces for all are a central part of healthy, resilient communities. A framework can help planners ensure that processes for shaping these spaces lead to design decisions that promote equity.

Draining: The Economic Impact of America's Hidden Water Crisis

At least 2 million Americans still don’t have running water or a working toilet at home, costing the U.S. economy $8.58 billion each year. A report from DigDeep puts a price tag on the number of people without water.

Read the report ->

Learn more about Water and Health

How Where We Live Affects Our Health

Creating Healthier Communities

Many families struggle to afford housing in neighborhoods with access to schools, grocery stores, parks and other services. How are cross-sector partnerhsips working to improve the health of all communities?

Learn more

RWJF Perspective

Infrastructure plan is a chance to use wellbeing to guide public policy

RWJF Senior Director Karabi Acharya highlights the need to reorienting public infrastructure to improve well-being, so that everyone, regardless of who they are or where they live—has the true opportunity to be well.

Read Karabi's op-ed in The Hill