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Priority Areas

The Center for Civic Engagement has identified several priority areas that align with the Onondaga County Community Health Needs Assessment. These priorities guide us in identifying potential Signature Programs.

Access to Care

Despite a relatively high level of access to care, Onondaga County adults are less likely to have had a checkup within the past 12 months (66.9%) compared to NYS (71.2%) and more likely to report 14 or more days of poor physical health in the past month (15.4%) compared to NYS (12.1%) (Expanded BRFSS Preliminary Report, 2013‐2014).

Chronic Disease

Onondaga County fares better than NYS on indicators of heart disease but worse on indicators of cancer morbidity and mortality despite high screening rates.

Indicators for diabetes and obesity remain of particular concern, as rates continue to increase. In Onondaga County, the incidence rates for both lung and prostate cancers are significantly higher compared to NYS; Obesity is increasing with 20.0% of adults and 16.1% of children considered obese; A greater percentage of residents have been told by their health care provider that they have diabetes (13.9%) compared to NYS (9.4%).

Food Access

In Onondaga County, low income residents, particularly children, are disproportionately affected by low access to grocery stores. Overall, 5.5% of low income residents have low access to a grocery store compared to 2.5% in NYS. Among children, 6.3% have low access to a grocery store.

Infant Mortality

The infant mortality rate (IMR) is 5.5 per 1,000 live births.

A substantial racial disparity exists between white and black residents, with IMRs of 4.3 per 1,000 and 12.4 per 1,000, respectively.


Disparities in education outcomes between Syracuse and the rest of the county are evident, as SCSD students consistently score significantly below the state average on standardized tests.

The district is generally considered one of the lowest performing in New York State.

Mental Health

Among adults, 17.4% reported 14 or more days of poor mental health in the past month, compared to 10.3% for NYS.

Self‐inflicted injury hospitalizations among adults and among teens age 15‐19 are significantly higher than NYS, and appear to be trending upward.


Among all residents, 14.7% had income in the last 12 months that was below the federal poverty level.

Especially striking is the poverty rate among children in Syracuse, where 49.0% of those under age 18 live in poverty, compared to 21.0% of children in Onondaga County.

School Drop Out

The high school dropout rate in Syracuse was 16% for 2015, which is more than double the rate of 7% for NYS.

Within the SCSD, the average graduation rate was 55% in 2015 compared with the NYS rate of 78%. (New York State Report Cards, 2015)

Substance Abuse

An alarming increase in heroin‐ related overdoses has been documented in the last few years as the rate of overdose deaths associated with heroin use has increased substantially.

The newborn drug‐related discharge rate is more than 3 times higher than that for NYS.


The homicide rate for black residents is 15 times the rate for white residents.

When looking specifically at firearm‐ related deaths, the rate among blacks is roughly 2‐3 times that of whites in NYS and the U.S.; in Onondaga County, the firearm‐related death rate among blacks is six‐times that of whites.

Source: The Onondaga County Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan, 2014‐2017

To learn more about the health status of our community, please view the Onondaga County Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan.