It is about how and why we deeply invest in our communities’ well-being in the ways we do.
Since 2017, Healthy Communities Foundation has had a clear sense of purpose—to be good stewards of community resources towards advancing health equity for our region’s residents across 27 zip codes in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs of Cook County. We invest in the collective vision of what healthy communities in our region can and should be, and we believe in the power of community-centered grantmaking to lead the way.
When we embarked on our journey towards health equity as a foundation, we recognized the diverse health inequities and outcomes that communities in our region have faced for decades and the systems that have prevented them from having a complete sense of health and well-being.
If our region is to thrive, we need to reimagine our systems and policies and how we have community lead the way with solutions to address the root causes of inequities faced each day.
The following four building blocks have supported and guided our health equity journey and grantmaking approach:
Our Foundation has evolved to be more responsive to community needs, given significant demographic and economic shifts and growing health inequities in our service region. The rapid changes fueled a renewed vision of health equity for our service area coupled with a community-centered approach to our grantmaking, operations, and culture.
In 2017, our strategic planning process brought our staff and board together on a learning journey that delved deep into detailed, hyperlocal health data. This data revealed a clear correlation between racial inequities and health outcomes experienced for decades and reinforced our mission, vision, and core values. Read our Strategic Plan here.
As a community-informed and engaged foundation, we strongly believe in developing and nurturing community and funder partnerships as part of our trust-based philanthropic approach. We listen to and amplify community stories around meeting tables and collaboratives with partners and peer funders to maximize our impact in the region.
We understand the value that lived experience brings to our work. Therefore, we intentionally recruit staff and board members who live in, have worked with, or have some type of connection with our service region. This philosophy is critical to ensuring our work is strategic and engages community to participate and change systems that impact their health.
All residents of our service region, particularly those who live with the greatest health inequities, should have access to resources and opportunities that improve their well-being and create a sustainable quality of life.
Systemic conditions, such as implicit bias and institutional and structural racism, impede those goals and disproportionately affect BILPOC (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, People of Color) communities. We commit to addressing these barriers by being a community-informed and embedded foundation.
We strive to be responsive to changing needs and circumstances in our region, and our grantmaking ensures that we address health inequities from a healing-informed and intersectional lens of racial and ethnic equity. We also believe that a mix of grantmaking and capacity building strategies that center community context creates a more functioning ecosystem in our region.