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Update

Deepening our commitment to addressing structural racism and creating more equitable opportunities for health

In June, we initiated a process to deepen our commitment to addressing structural racism and creating more equitable opportunities for health, beginning with developing a greater understanding of the ways in which racism drives inequities in the areas of our work and then identifying potential avenues for our Foundation to focus. This process was informed most substantially by external feedback – involving grantees, peer funders, community stakeholders, and subject-matter experts – and complemented conversations with our board, along with an ongoing internal equity learning and discovery process.

Below is a summary of what we heard over the past six months and its impact on our work moving forward.

 

What We Heard 

  • Look beyond racism at the individual level to change the systems that have created and continue to reinforce and deepen racial inequities.
  • Help communities understand where decisions are made that impact health and well-being, and who can be called to action or held accountable.
  • Support systems-change at the local level – in city and county governments, and within regions – to alter policy and resource allocation.
  • Create tools to help communities hold systems (e.g., education, justice, planning) accountable for the equitable allocation of resources.
  • Support power building in communities by developing leaders and supporting them to develop strategies that will create change.
  • Be specific about the focus of the work: use language that makes the commitment to racial equity explicit and specific.

 

Our Commitments Moving Forward


1) Deepen Racial Equity in Our Topical Focus Areas

Rather than create a new focus area, we are instead integrating a racial equity lens across our entire body of work, including our primary topical areas of focus:

For example, in Early Childhood

  • Supporting organizations led by, and serving, people of color to raise their voices and influence policy debate at the state level
  • Initiating work to implement a strategy on inequities in preschool suspensions and expulsions where Black children are suspended at a disproportionate rate

For example, in Healthy Food 

  • Identifying and explicitly addressing structures in the food system that disadvantage Black, Latino, and American Indian communities to create a more equitable and resilient post-COVID food system – from growing and processing to transporting, selling, and consumption
  • Building a coalition of funders that understand racial inequities in the food system and are committed to aligned investments

For example, in Oral Health 

  • Expanding data transparency and disaggregation to target our work more effectively to reduce inequities among Black, Latino, and American Indian populations
  • Creating more opportunities to seek and center the experience of Black, Latino, and American Indian communities in the development of policy and practice change goals

 

 

2) Invest in Capacity Building to Promote Equity

Including, but not limited to:

  • Developing partnerships with other funders in an urban and rural place-based approach focused on areas with a history of persistent disinvestment
  • Supporting communities to identify and impact systems that create or reinforce racial inequities - including developing data, policy analysis, and equity accountability tools, as well as providing technical assistance and capacity building
  • Providing support for racial equity and inclusion training, technical assistance, and implementation to ensure a greater focus on racial equity in strategies and policy agendas intended to enact systems change
  • Supporting leadership development of Black, Latino, and American Indian leadership across our areas of our work - including support for self-care, developing community leadership strategies, and movement building

 

 

3) Support Leaders of Color & Increase Funding of People of Color-Led Organizations

Including, but not limited to:

  • Increasing funding of people of color-led organizations
  • Funding work across our focus areas that strengthens feedback loops and elevates voices of people of color and with lived experience in state policy debate

 

 

4) Create a More Equitable Grantmaking Process 

Including, but not limited to:

  • Focusing on equity in the grantee and applicant experience
  • Removing barriers within our programmatic and administrative practices through continuous process improvement
  • Developing more systematic approaches to engaging grantees and community partners in the development of strategies and equitable practices

 

 

5) Continue to Listen, Learn, and Adapt 

  • This work is 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.