Health Equity


Marin City Health and Wellness Center provides innovative health and wellness services to all, with the goal of African American Health Equity.

We provide wraparound healthcare to patients of all ages and ethnicities at clinics in Marin City, San Rafael, Bayview Hunters Point. Our Marin Family Birth Center in San Rafael provides perinatal, water birth, and midwifery services as Marin County’s only freestanding birth center.

Social Determinants of Health

The Social Determinants of Health connect environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age to a wide range of health and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. In simple terms, this means that poverty makes people sick: there is a direct correlation between health and wealth, and poverty and illness. Low-income minority neighborhoods tend to have fewer green spaces, streetlights, bike paths and sidewalks, playgrounds, and full-service grocery stores.

Used with permission of Families USA

According to the Portrait of Marin study (2012):

  • Of 2.6% of Marin County residents who are African American, nearly 30% of Black residents of Marin “live” in San Quentin Prison. (P.21)
  • Marin City residents make just 38% of the average income for Marin County (Marin County average income = $98,839; Marin City average income = $34,457)
  • Residents of the wealthy suburb of Ross outlive residents of Marin City by 11 years (88 vs. 77.4 years). (See Page 18 of Portrait of Marin report.)
  • Across the U.S., African Americans have the lowest life expectancy of any ethnic group in Marin County (79.5 years), California (73.3 years) or the U.S. (74.3 years). (P.27)
  • Until Target opened in March 2017, Marin City had several fast food outlets but the closest grocery store was costly Mollie Stone Market in Sausalito.

Infographic source: Families USA

Take Action for Health Equity

Marin County Health and Human Services has created a Health Equity Initiative. MCHWC created a program (Park Rx) that is cited by HHS as a particularly effective program to improve wellness in poor communities. Now MCHWC is working with a collaboration in Bayview Hunters Point (SF) to launch Park Rx there.

Learn about structural racism.

Diversity and gentrification can disrupt inter-generational support systems when low-income residents can no longer afford to live near family. Hear our CEO talk about how this affects Black communities.

White Like Me is a documentary film that explains systemic barriers facing black and brown citizens. Black working families came to Marin City for shipyard jobs and were provided housing in Marin City, while white workers moved to Mill Valley.

While all soldiers could benefit from mortgages financed through the GI Bill, “redlining” restricted home sales to certain ethnic groups, including African Americans. This committed entire communities to generations of poverty because they never had that initial investment of a home: the nest egg that enabled millions to join the middle class.

Read about the reality of what it means to be Black in America:

  • Waking Up White (D. Irving)
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (B.Stevenson)
  • White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (T.Wise)
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (M.Alexander)
  • Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (J.Degruy)
  • Between the World and Me (T.Coates)

Fund programs that disrupt lifelong poverty. As a community healthcare organization, Marin City Health & Wellness Center (MCHWC) understands that to address the health needs of at-risk communities, we must create economic opportunity – especially for youth. Please consider making a gift today.

  • Quality of Life Road Trip—The summer 2017 trip takes our most vulnerable teens on a life-changing journey to see examples of leadership and success at a cost of $2,500 per participant.
  • Health and Wellness Academy of Science High School—2017-18 pilot will cost $300,000. Read about program impact and budget.
  • The Defenders program for teen boys or Girl Power for young women—together serving 110 Black middle/high school students. See more about the connection between teen behavioral health and poverty.


Research on Health Disparities

The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion created a tool to track Leading Health Indicators: critical health issues that—if tackled appropriately—will dramatically reduce the leading causes of death and preventable illnesses. You can explore their data using the widget below to:

  • View health disparities by demographics (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, educational attainment, family income, disability status, geographic location, age)
  • Navigate data and view changes in those disparities over time
  • Compare data points for each population group, as well as the range of estimates between each group
  • Display all rates, rate ratios, standard errors, confidence intervals, and technical details about data collection methods