GENERAL OPERATING SUPPORT

What We Believe

We commit the majority of our funding to unrestricted general operating support. It allows us to invest deeply in critical, community-led pandemic response efforts, connect with new partners whose efforts align with our grantmaking strategies, and amplify a bold response and recovery for our region.

 

We firmly believe that strengthening our partner organizations from within allows them to be more adaptive, creative, and values-focused to deliver health and social services that advance health equity.

Partnership Types

Annual 

These are one-year grants awarded annually and based on an open competitive grant cycle. Through this funding, we have a continued connection and understanding of community needs and initiatives. For the 2021 grant cycle, we reviewed grant proposals through the lens of achieving an equitable recovery from the COVID pandemic and strengthening the health equity ecosystem of our region.

Multi-Year 

Multi-year grantee partners receive a renewable general operating support grant for a defined period to support their leadership efforts towards advancing health equity in our region. In 2021, we begin a 3-year grant commitment to a cohort of multi-year partners. This type of long-term partnership is a strategic learning process for us and one that we envision co-creating with our partners’ expertise, input, and organizational capacity. Partners who participate in the multi-year grantee partner cohort will not be eligible for our open annual grant cycles for the duration of the partnership.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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2021 Grant Cycle

Our 2021 Grant Cycle is closed, but we plan to post information about future grant cycles soon.

 

For reference, you can read our 2021 Grant Guidelines.

Multi-Year General Operating Support Grants

Q: How were organizations selected for multi-year grants this year?

We have been intentional about how we use data that our grantee partners provide to inform our funding strategies and assess impact in our grantmaking. While we are a relatively new foundation, our grantmaking processes have evolved in alignment with our strategic plan. In 2020, we shifted our general operating support funding to only support our current grantee partners to meet the needs of our region during the pandemic and have been developing a learning-based equitable evaluation framework.

 

Using hyper-local data, having deep conversations with all grantee partners, and developing our evaluation framework has informed the evolution of our general operating support funding. These elements have helped us shape the criteria we used to select our 2021-2023 multi-year partners.

 

Each partner meets the criteria below, although the way they meet it may look differently depending on its organizational focus, communities served or other aspects: 

      • Employs an organization-wide intersectional approach to health equity and racial justice work and practices beyond their programs and services.    
      • Intentionally engages our region’s residents and communities in conversations, solutions and/or decision-making to inform their strategy and work. 
      • Centers BILPOC leadership in their staff and board of directors.   
      • Engages in organizational learning to inform upstream, systems-focused approaches to health equity.  
      • Convenes with others through an intersectional lens and brings collaborative expertise and capacity.  
      • Demonstrated local leadership in implementing a robust COVID-19 response that utilizes, provides, and/or advocates for: 
        • Community health workers/promotoras de salud 
        • Community-based mental health services, and/or 
        • Direct cash assistance to our region’s residents through a racial/ethnic equity lens  

 

Q: What are the most significant differences between an annual grant versus a multi-year grant from Healthy Communities Foundation?

Time commitment, on grantee partners and the Foundation, is the main difference between annual and multi-year funding.  

 

For Annual Grantee Partners: We have continued to streamline the application process and reporting requirements to reduce the time spent on the application, site visit, and due diligence process. But, as part of our new equitable evaluation framework, there is much we can learn from the critical work of annual grantee partners, and look forward to engaging with them in a learning process that is rapid and informs our broader strategies.

 

For Multi-Year Partners: While multi-year partners receive a three-year funding commitment from us, there is also a commitment from organizations to a more in-depth reporting process and participation in learning practices with the foundation that may include qualitative research and communications collaboration.

 

Q: When do you begin your next multi-year funding cohort? 

As part of our equitable evaluation framework, multi-year grantee partners are a part of our learning and impact strategy. The decision to extend multi-year grants (or expand the number and type of multi-year grantee partners) will be based on key learnings and data we derive from our evaluation framework. In addition, we will include up-to-date assessments of our region’s health needs in that decision-making as our region may be in a different phase of the pandemic recovery.

 

Q: Why did the Healthy Communities Foundation not have an open call or RFP process for multi-year partnerships? 

We recognize that organizations have faced many internal and external changes this past year, including navigating new funding shifts. We heard from our partners that it has not been easy managing multiple grant applications at this time. We did not want to add another barrier for organizations that are already operating at maximum capacity. We turned to our learnings from 2020, our conversations with community and grantee partners in early 2021, and our strategic plan to develop our approach to multi-year partnerships.

Other Funding Opportunities

Q: If I am an annual partner (or multi-year partner), does this mean I am precluded from responsive or strategic funding opportunities?

Our general operating support grants work in tandem with other funding opportunities. In the next three years, we will look closely at grantee partners’ equitable COVID recovery efforts to determine future investment in potential responsive opportunities or strategic initiatives.

2021 General Operating
Support Grants

General operating support has and will remain the core of our grantmaking. We are committed to shifting from emergency response to long-term strategic investments, with an emphasis on our Legacy & Equity area and a strengthened focus on addressing the social determinants of health in our region.

 

As part of our COVID response approach, our general operating support has evolved to two strands in 2021: Annual and Multi-Year Partnerships.

OUR SERVICE REGION

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Total grants – $6,217,000

BY GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

CITY, SUBURBS – Represents partners that primarily serve our “Legacy & Equity” area, comprised of communities in Chicago and western Cook County suburbs that experience the greatest health inequities in our region and have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

REGIONAL – Represents partners that serve communities across our entire service region.

SUBURBAN REGIONAL – Represents partners that primarily serve our region’s communities in west suburban Cook County

Annual Partners

Partner Count


Annual Partner

TOTAL: 52

Funding Amount


Annual Fund

TOTAL: $3,072,000

Multi-Year Partners

Partner Count


Multi Year Partners

TOTAL: 20

Funding Amount


Multi Year Funds

TOTAL: $3,145,000

BY GRANTMAKING PRIORITY

Grantee partners’ work aligns with at least one of our grantmaking priorities below. Learn more about our grantmaking priorities.

 

ACCESS to quality health services
ADDRESS social determinants of health
ADVOCATE for health policies & systems change
AUGMENT knowledge through capacity building

2021 Grantmaking Priorities (9 x 9 in) (1)

Learn About our OTHER grantmaking areas