Over the past year, as we have continued to support organizations and communities throughout North Carolina, we’ve also been conducting a strategic review. It’s been a process of figuring out the best way to fulfill our vision of achieving health equity in North Carolina.
Now, by itself that’s not really a novel approach. We all understand the benefits of things like healthy eating, and staying in good physical shape – tenets of our grantmaking for many years.
Where this can have profound implications is when we look further, at the impacts of housing, early child development, and transportation, as examples.
And, as we broaden the scope from a single person to entire communities, we can see all the factors that are beyond individual control.
As a society we’re learning more and more about the impact of social, physical, and economic factors on health. And as a funder, we’ve gained a greater understanding of these issues through the work being done by our grantees.
What does this mean for our work?
It means that as we expand our perspective, we are also elevating equity. Equity is one of our core values, along with Authenticity, Collaboration, Curiosity, Health, and Leadership. We believe that acknowledging and addressing inequities is key to unlocking good health.
It means supporting individuals, organizations, and communities to recognize and act on the root causes of poor health and health inequities, especially for those at high risk.
It means increasing our commitment to systematic and policy innovations that can impact large numbers of people and create lasting change.
It means shifting from a siloed grantmaking structure — which, in the past, separated Health Care, Healthy Living, and Nonprofit Leadership — to a more expansive, integrated approach built around the many drivers of health.
And, it means, very specifically a focus on:
- transforming the health care system (including oral health)
- expanding access to healthy food
- supporting a healthy start for children
- improving the places where people live
- strengthening the ability of communities to improve their own health.
An evolution in action.
Parts of our work are continuing as they have, with increased emphasis.
We are continuing to embed leadership development throughout all of our work, based on our belief that strong leaders are key to accelerating meaningful and innovative change.
And we are continuing to engage directly with stakeholders at all levels — from decision-makers and influencers to community members and those most affected by inequities. We do this not only because we value collaboration, but because we know from experience that this is the best way to both identify the factors influencing health and to implement the actions needed to improve them.
We’ve already begun adopting this new strategy in our work; it’s a process, and additional refinements will continue in the months ahead as we learn more, and as we seek out new grant and program opportunities.