How and Where We Work
Meeting today’s challenges calls for thoughtful planning and a systems-focused approach that acknowledges inequities and prioritizes the needs of local communities.
Our work starts from the premise that dramatic changes to the structural, social, and economic conditions that produce inequities is essential – a belief that is truer today than ever.
For us this requires several things, key among them:
- Focusing upstream to address the root causes of poor health and inequities
- Engaging with community members to develop, advocate for, and implement strategies to identify and address those root causes
- Focusing, as much as possible, on policy and systems-level changes
These considerations were at the forefront of a strategic planning process we undertook in 2019 and into 2020, during which we explored answers to the two most important questions we face as an organization. What will it take for North Carolina to become one of the healthiest states in the nation where everyone has an opportunity to be healthy? And, what will be our role in this pursuit?
After reflecting on our own experience and commitment to equity, engaging grantees and partners for external feedback, and monitoring trends and changes in the field, we arrived at the following areas of priority.
- Early Childhood—Every young child (ages 0-5) in North Carolina has the opportunity and resources to be healthy and well-prepared for success in school, work, and life.
- Healthy Communities—Every community in North Carolina has the conditions for good health.
- Healthy Food—Everyone in North Carolina has access to healthy food.
- Oral Health—Everyone in North Carolina has access to quality, affordable oral health services.
Look beyond grantmaking
While as a foundation, grantmaking is at the heart of what we do, the fact remains that grants alone cannot realize the hopes we have for the people and places of North Carolina. To that end, our approach also integrates investments and initiatives to shape narratives, influence policy, connect stakeholders, and foster relationships.
Evaluate what is working, what is not, and why
How do we know progress is being made if we don’t measure it? Through a combination of long-term, short-term, and environmental markers, we are better understanding the impact of our investments and identifying modifications that will lead to greater bearing on health.
Evolve and adapt
Things change. The challenges faced by communities across the state are complex and dynamic. So too are the effects of our work within communities. This reality has led us to embrace what is known as an emergent approach to strategy, understanding that as conditions evolve over time, so too will our work.