Sean is a student from Houston, TX who goes to Harvard College.



Iris is a student from Saratoga, CA who goes to Stanford University.



Ethan is a student from Colorado Springs, CO who goes to Harvard College.

What can we do

about health inequity and social injustice? How can we support vulnerable communities that are being disproportionately affected?
The creators of the COVID-19 Health Vulnerability Mapper would like to put forward the philosophy of Effective Altruism (EA) as we consider how to best tackle this issue. EA is a social and philanthropic movement started by a group of philosophers, primarily at the University of Oxford, promoting the idea that we should use the resources we have to do the most good we can for the world. As the EA principles put it, “the good is the enemy of the better.”
In terms of the problem of health inequity, this leads to the question of how individuals can use their resources to produce the maximum possible positive outcome for vulnerable communities suffering from the effects of COVID-19. We need to ask not just which charities, NGOs, and advocacy groups are working on this issue, but which ones are doing the most effective job of getting help where help is needed.
Below are some of the national groups that we’ve found so far that are targeting social and health equity issues with the most efficacy and greatest positive results. These groups have proven themselves to be among the most effective in breaking into local political scenes, starting meaningful community conversations, and fighting for the environmental and medical rights of vulnerable communities nationwide. This list will be continuously updated as a multitude of existing groups continue to fight for these causes, and as new relevant groups inevitably form.
  • Prevention Institute: An incredibly transparent, nationally-ranging nonprofit working to weave health equity considerations into concrete policies in every level of government. With an ambitious list of frameworks and focus areas and an open list of impressive accomplishments to match them, this is one of the health equity groups that we’re most excited about right now.
  • National Collaborative for Health Equity: A data-driven, multi-sector organization that develops programs addressing health inequities across various populations (including those defined by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and education--many of the same variables that you may have explored on our interactive map).
  • Satcher Health Leadership Institute: A medical research and policy institute doing important political work on diverse health equity areas; note a larger focus on mental and behavioral healthcare access than the groups listed above.
If you’re looking for more official resources to learn about this issue of health inequity, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health and the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities both contain ample data, policy specifications, and program information on this issue in the United States. The Kaiser Family Foundation NPO also has a frequently-updated topics page specifically devoted to American health disparity policy.
We’d also like to note that these disproportionate losses due to COVID-19 aren’t just a result of health equity as an isolated phenomenon: they stem from a deeper-rooted social injustice that, despite great strides, still permeates virtually all communities. By using our resources to raise up underrepresented populations, we are also addressing many of the root causes of health and environmental inequity themselves. With this principle in mind, please consider donating to one or more of the groups below, all of whom are effectively working on broader social issues in the United States.
  • American Civil Liberties Union: ACLU’s reputation almost certainly precedes itself: it is one of the longest-running, most successful, and most prominent organizations in the country working on these issues--not just promoting social justice and Constitutional rights, but consistently and successfully defending them in court.
  • National Urban League: A national civil rights advocacy organization with a focus on urban African-American communities, the National Urban League has served 1.7 million people through their local affiliates located across America. In terms of their health equity work, their medical programs have already reached 20,000 underserved people, 82% of whom enjoyed health improvements as a result.
  • Native American Rights Fund: By and for Native American tribes across the nation, this organization handles court cases related to Native American rights, drafts relevant policy and legislation, and works to protect the cultural heritage of America’s first peoples.
  • Children’s Defense Fund: This child advocacy organization, known for their Leave No Child Behind mission, is making concrete policy progress for children’s rights at the intersections between health, education, and poverty, and is particularly focused on uplifting poor children and children of color.
As a P.S., we’d like to give a shout-out to Amnesty International U.S.A. While we wanted to constrain the section above to groups either working solely or sharply focusing on social inequities, Amnesty effectively tackles a variety of human rights issues, including gun violence and the death penalty, which are quite separate from our current issue of discussion; however, we do think that Amnesty is doing some of the most impressive and high-impact work addressing social inequality in the United States right now, and while there’s no guarantee that your donation would be utilized for their COVID-related or social justice-related campaigns, we feel confident that your contribution would be put to good use preserving and promoting human rights in America.
Finally, we’d like to stress the value of contributing not just to the national picture, but to your own local community. Search for your county on the mapper. If you live near a vulnerable community, consider how you could help direct more resources towards them and improve their financial situation and quality of life, whether that means donating to their public school system or contributing to a local COVID relief fund. If you live in a traditionally underserved community yourself, we’d encourage you to reflect on how you can start initiating community conversations about how to improve collective resilience to disasters by uplifting one another with social and political action at the local level.
It will take the hard work of all of us, together, to create a more equitable and just nation for all Americans.

What will you do to help?