Catalyst - Fall 2020 Vol 3 No 1 | Page 4

Becoming An Equity Funder: What You Can Expect From Healthcare Georgia Foundation by Gary D. Nelson, PhD, President In 2008, Healthcare Georgia’s Board of Directors introduced Achieving Health Equity as the organization’s vision. This new vision enabled the Foundation to broaden its understanding and approach to health disparities, basic human needs, and the social determinants of health among the state’s vulnerable populations. This new and more comprehensive understanding of health equity created a natural pathway for redefining the Foundation’s vision in 2018 to: Health Equity in Georgia, where all people attain their fullest potential for health and well-being. Ten years after establishing a vision for health equity, Healthcare Georgia Foundation began its transformation as a health equity funder with the commitment and expertise of our Board of Directors, our staff, and state and national partners. Only two years later, no one could have predicted the upheaval and how imperative it would be to accelerate the transformation to a healthy equity funder with such powerful urgency. The COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, political polarization, the devaluation of science and a growing economic divide have become the unfortunate bedrock for our nation and for the state of Georgia. While we are still at the beginning of this journey and have much to learn and do, these unstable times have invited much dialogue as the Board and staff address paramount questions and confirm our commitment to health equity for all. What should our grantees, partners and Georgia’s vulnerable communities expect from Healthcare Georgia Foundation as we fulfill our social contract and commitment to health equity? What will it mean to align our intentions with our funding? Our philanthropic response to the events of 2020 provides a glimpse of how we are applying an equity lens to our work. Although there is no playbook and no evidence-based practice to guide us, why we do what we do is anchored in our unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and observed in the Foundation’s recent and future actions: • Intensifying efforts to distribute grant resources and technical support benefiting persons of color, vulnerable populations and low-income communities • Increasing emphasis and outreach on grantees who represent minority-owned and managed organizations • Assuring equitable if not disproportionate allocation of resources to health nonprofits serving minority populations • Relaxing (simplifying) grantmaking policies and procedures with input from grantees • Expanding efforts directed to diversity and inclusion in our grantmaking • Shifting our attention upstream to the social determinants of health of which racism is the most prevalent and powerful • Using our voice to address unjust policies affecting persons of color and vulnerable populations • Establishing evaluation metrics that assess equity • Insisting on decision-making informed by disaggregated data • Leveraging partnerships, alliances and collaboratives that are committed to health equity • Committing to greater diversity in Foundation Board and staff • Building an organizational culture reflecting an equity lens • Recognizing and promoting exemplary models of equity leadership • Uplifting the stories of promising approaches to equity and social justice Healthcare Georgia Foundation has moved from rhetoric to action. We have chosen a better future. In the spirit of accountability and transparency, the actions described here represent a starting point in our journey- undertaken at a pace with a long-term cadence. It is with resolve and humility that we seek your partnership and look forward to our shared pursuit of a more equitable Georgia. 4