The American Rescue Plan Act provides $1.9 trillion in programs and tax policies across nearly all sectors of government to provide relief to individuals, families, communities, and states. There are several ways in which philanthropy can help to minimize the risk that we squander this opportunity to strengthen our communities.
The road ahead will require continued action and collaboration on complex and challenging issues—and we must apply the lessons of the past year to maximize our chances of building a more just and equitable future.
Events over the last year put a spotlight on the significant health, economic, and social disparities in our country. In the few days that have elapsed in 2021, that spotlight has focused in on the division our country faces, fueled by mistrust.
This year has placed a spotlight on many things, including the importance of leadership during times of crisis and uncertainty. I recently had the pleasure of welcoming the newest cohort of fellows to the Terrance Keenan Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy. We spent three afternoons together learning about each other’s leadership style, talking about how to foster more diverse and inclusive work environments, discussing how to advance health equity through the work of their foundations, and engaging community leaders in a discussion on power sharing and how to more effectively partner with community organizations to effect change.
Investment in rural communities and in organizations led by people of color is disproportionately low compared to their population size and need. There are relatively small groups of dedicated researchers, advocates, and policymakers committed to progress in each area. Funders can bring these groups together, thereby creating a force multiplier effect that could lead to significant improvements in health for all.
As we head into Fall, let us take a moment to rest, recharge, and to care for one another so that we are prepared to meet the challenges ahead. Let us also remain hopeful, knowing that together we can accomplish anything.
The pandemic and ensuing social unrest have led to myriad conversations focused on how to use this moment to create a more equitable health system, rebuild our public health infrastructure, and reimagine police practices. I would encourage us to also consider this moment an opportunity to rethink our educational system, given the strong relationship between education, income, wealth, and health.
Our country has experienced significant upheaval over the last 90 days that raised the collective awareness of inequities in health, work, education, and policing. These changes have led to increased calls for action and offer a pivotal moment to enact meaningful steps towards achieving health equity. We must not squander this opportunity.
As we reopen our communities and think about long-term recovery plans, we should also consider how to redesign our systems to achieve better health for everyone. Philanthropy has a vital role to play in this process.
Philanthropy has a critical role to play in ensuring that health disparities are acknowledged and addressed during this crisis and throughout the recovery process. Health foundations are uniquely positioned to respond to COVID-19 and can deploy a wide range of resources in their communities.