The Time is Now: A Call for Philanthropic Engagement in the Implementation of the New 988 Mental Health Crisis Hotline
The Sozosei Foundation believes that 988 provides a once in a lifetime philanthropic opportunity to create the mental health and crisis response services that, frankly, have never been properly resourced. We believe that this will help to decriminalize mental illness and significantly move the needle on our overarching goal of eliminating the use of jails and prisons for the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.
Philanthropy has an urgent responsibility and opportunity to address the structural factors leading to birth inequities. Healthier pregnancies, labors, and postpartum recoveries not only benefit birthing individuals, but also result in healthier children and families. Focusing attention on those who need it most could have positive implications for entire communities harmed by systemic racism for future generations. There is much work to do, but not enough philanthropic organizations are supporting these issues to tackle them at scale. We need all hands-on deck to truly move the needle. We five funders— from different states and coming to this issue from different angles—are reaching out to our fellow funders with a call to action to join us to in this work.
Whether by directly funding new research or calling on Congress to increase funding, philanthropic institutions can help build the evidence that leads to more effective gun policies and invest in initiatives for improved firearm data at the local, state, and federal levels.
As funders, we recognize that expansive challenges often require expansive solutions—and that building sustainable mental health support requires broad community buy-in. Our work with the University of Michigan organization TRAILS exemplifies this effort: by embedding mental health services directly into schools, TRAILS works to ensure that all students have access to the care they need.
COVID-19 has had disproportionate impact on justice-involved people because health and justice systems maintain discrete siloes due to longstanding policies. These policies create structural barriers to an integrated response to people living at the intersection of these two systems. Focusing resources in this overlooked area provides an excellent opportunity for a return on investment for grantmakers seeking to make impactful change.
The “how” of cross-funder collaboration—and knowing where to start—is not always easy to figure out. As colleagues from both a regional and national health philanthropy, we are proud to share insights on our unique journey from relationship-building to collaboration.
Moving towards sustained and authentic relationship-building with community partners requires that we examine and shift away from practices, policies, and behaviors that prioritize the transactional components of grantmaking. To do this, we must acknowledge and confront power where it lies within our foundations and work at all levels of the organization to truly make this shift.
Fifteen years ago, I heard the words no one wants to hear—I had breast cancer. Even so, I was lucky in that I had comprehensive health insurance, access to some of the best doctors, and could afford out-of-pocket costs. At Susan G. Komen, we know that not everyone is as fortunate.
I have worked in philanthropy for over a decade—and believe we are at a pivotal time in our field’s history when taking action for equity is our only option in our quest for a just future.
When thinking about equity and justice, funders should ask themselves if we are operating from an authentically inclusive space—or under the illusion of inclusion.