Evolving Our Grantmaking for an Equitable Recovery

Evolving Our Grantmaking for an Equitable Recovery

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Our President Maria S. Pesqueira shares how our core grantmaking has shifted beginning this year to support grantee partners, increase our understanding of the local health landscape and attain an equitable recovery for our region.

Our pandemic response is based not only on what we do as a foundation but also on how we build and cultivate relationships with our grantee partners, especially at this time. 

While it has been our practice since 2017, we continue to listen to our partners to understand current and emergent hyper-local issues and their effects on our region’s health and communities. Our team values this practice, which has been an essential part of our reflections this past year. We continually ask ourselves: 

As our communities and their needs evolve, how can we ensure we are in right relationship with and evolving along with our partners? 

During the past 18 months, our grantee partners have remarkably shifted their work to meet urgent community needs, despite decreased capacity, organizational transitions, and staff experiencing the same challenges as those they serve. As the pandemic continues to impact BILPOC communities in our region, we know that our actions at this moment are crucial to achieving our mission and a just and equitable recovery for our service area. 

With the strong support of our Board of Directors, we plan to increase our total grantmaking for the next three years. In 2021, we will award $10.2 million in grants across our four strands of grantmaking, a 15% increase from our 2020 total funding. We aim to strengthen local organizations, address the immediate health needs of our region’s residents, and increase the momentum of efforts focused on addressing the systemic root causes of health inequities exacerbated by the pandemic. Though we have always given above the minimum required amount, this moment calls for us to sustain this practice beyond this crisis and commit to the long-term so that our region is stronger and better able to respond to the next public health emergency.    

We are happy to share that $6.2 million, more than 60% of this year’s total funding, has gone towards general operating support grants, the cornerstone of our grantmaking and our trust-based philanthropic approach.  

As a foundation, we are not the experts, nor do we have the solutions to the issues that communities face. We strongly believe in strengthening organizations from within so they can explore, adapt and respond in ways that leverage community assets and partnerships towards building healthier and vibrant communities.

 

Based on conversations with partners about the current and emerging needs of their organizations and our region, we rolled out a new strand of general operating support alongside our annual giving: multi-year funding.

Multi-year funding exemplifies what trust-based philanthropy can be as it gives our partners the flexibility to determine where the money should go and clears the way for innovative thinking, unrestricted action, and long-term sustainability. For us, multi-year partnerships offer opportunities to learn from organizations that are leaders in health equity and justice work and to co-create strategies to further these efforts. This year, we begin a three-year commitment for general operating support to our inaugural cohort of 20 local organizations who have deep connections to our region’s communities and an explicit health equity focus in their work. Meet them here.

Annual grantee partners play a critical role in the local health ecosystem and pandemic recovery. We learn about emerging needs and work happening in our region aligned with our strategic plan through their work. We are excited to continue strengthening existing partnerships and building new ones with our 2021 grantee partners. Meet them here. 

We know that an equitable recovery for our region will take time. Because of that, we understand that a trust-based and community-informed approach to our grantmaking will be key. We look forward to working with all our grantee partners, community stakeholders, and philanthropic peers as we harness this moment to reimagine what health and wellness can and should be in a post-pandemic future for individuals, families, and communities in our region.

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