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The Collective for Health Equity and Well-Being

Cooperative Extension’s Collective for Health Equity and Well-Being is a community of Extension personnel and their partners united by their shared commitment to advancing health equity and well-being. Members work together to support the implementation of Cooperative Extension’s National Framework for Health Equity and Well-Being (2021) to ensure that all people can be as healthy as they can be.

Targeted Universalism: An Approach for Addressing Health Inequities


Efforts to direct additional resources toward groups experiencing inequitable health outcomes can often be derailed by perceptions that doing so works against the common good and that some people are receiving preferential treatment in the allocation of scarce resources.  Targeted universalism, however, is based on the assumption that health for all is a benefit for all.  Targeted universalism involves setting universal health goals for a community and then taking targeted actions to make sure that everyone achieves those goals.   "It is an approach that supports the needs of particular groups, even the politically powerful or those in the majority, while reminding everyone that we are all part of the same social and civic fabric.  As such, targeted universalist policies are more resistant to the critique that government programs serve special interests, whoever that might be.”  (Haas Institute, 2019).  To learn more, visit

Might targeted universalism be an approach that Cooperative Extension might utilize in its efforts to address health inequities without pitting groups against each other?  Can community health coalitions and other collective impact initiatives benefit from such an approach?

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Excellent topic and question. I believe that Targeted Universalism has a lot to offer efforts that are seeking to increase equity as it is based on an anti-racist framework that centers human wellbeing over profit. It also seems to me that many of the models we pursue, implement and replicate are tied to the same structures that contribute and perpetuate inequities, and Targeted Universalism is therefore an excellent alternate approach.

In the world of community building, we are also increasing conversations about Healing-Centered Engagement and I think that these two models together have the potential to truly transform communities.



About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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