For organizations like the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund (the Fund) and Prevention Institute (PI), GIH conferences have served as a critical space to bring together advocates across sectors and spark new ideas to address complex health issues. Inspired by a PI-led session on upstream prevention and health equity at GIH’s March 2016 annual conference, the Fund noted the promising landscape for a grantmaking initiative that could focus on root causes of poor health and dismantling systems of inequity, and a partnership was born.
Across the United States we are seeing a coordinated campaign to restrict lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) rights and limit access to affirming, lifesaving health care. According to the Equality Federation, nearly 400 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced across the country in 2021, and over 240 bills have already been filed in 2022. These policies directly impact the health and safety of members of the LGBTQ community. Recent data from The Trevor Project show that 66 percent of LGBTQ youth, including 85 percent of transgender and/or nonbinary youth, report that recent debates around state laws to restrict the rights of transgender people have negatively affected their mental health.
Philanthropy is increasingly embracing narrative change as a tool for building public and political will to advance equitable policies and structural change. Yet philanthropic narrative investments to advance racial justice and health equity are still relatively new and disparate. The work is often siloed, lessons and insights are not often shared across efforts, and there is also a wide range of definitions of narratives, perspectives, and approaches on how to shift them.
We are experiencing a watershed moment for philanthropy-funded social change efforts in the United States. The partnerships, knowledge, and resources that funders leverage have never been more important in contributing to the conditions that communities need for everyone to thrive, without exceptions. With such a rapid pace of change happening all around us, how can funders make the most of their role in supporting and advancing large-scale, transformative impact? The answer is to look forward with the benefit of hindsight and with partners who understand where and how to take those next steps.
Investing in Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities through Strategic Philanthropic Partnerships
May is Asian American Pacific Islander heritage month, celebrating the fastest-growing racial group in the United States. Recent priorities for grantmakers have focused on racial equity, health and well-being, and immigrant rights. Yet, investments for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders have been under-resourced and deprioritized, receiving only 0.26 percent of philanthropic dollars and 0.17 percent of research funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Contrary to the narrative that all philanthropic investments have been ineffective in Haiti, Partners In Health, Build Health International, and Health Equity International have had immense positive impacts on the health sector in Haiti over the last decade. With sustained funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, these nongovernmental organizations are committed to tackling systemic inequities embedded in the health care system.
The gap is widening between mental health care and our nation’s youth. The continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustices, and climate change are deepening this crevice and weighing on young people. The U.S. Surgeon General issued a stark warning on youth mental health, and doctors, hospitals, mental health organizations, and young people are also sounding the alarm.
Multiplying Funder Impact Through Multisector Collaborations: Models for Creating Racial and Health Equity
Multisector collaborations epitomize the expression “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Working together toward common goals, organizations from different sectors that listen and work directly with communities can multiply their impact compared to what they can accomplish working separately. Because of this, funders too can expand their impact by investing in and encouraging these multisector collaborations that serve as engines for lifting up community voices and promoting equity.
Health professionals and health advocacy groups are learning how they can elevate environmental chemicals as an important element of cancer prevention, including in research design, clinical practice, policy advocacy, and in cancer initiatives such as the Beau Biden Moonshot and states’ 5-year cancer prevention and control plans. When health leaders are given the opportunity to examine barriers to cancer prevention, including those they may contribute to, they gain confidence in their ability—and responsibility—to use their power as trusted messengers to call for dramatic reductions in carcinogens.
In this new era of public health care and practice, as our global community continues to endure the impact of a pandemic, we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to ensure we do not fall back into old patterns. This is our chance as a larger health-focused collective to use our expertise, influence, and resources to change the landscape of health. Governmental agencies, nonprofits, clinical and non-clinical groups, and funders have an important role in the future of public health.