2015 was an exciting year for the Health Forward Foundation. It was during this year that we celebrated 10 years of grantmaking.
Over the course of the past decade, we have funded over 440 organizations. We took an opportunity this year through our Decade of Difference report and website, events, and our #AHealthy10 series to highlight the work of many of these organizations.
What a true honor it has been to help tell the story of the work being doing to advance health in our region. And it’s been an even bigger honor to fund the organizations at the forefront of these health advances.
But now we move on to our second decade of work. The landscape is different than it was when we began. The political climate, while as partisan as perhaps ever before, still affords us with opportunities to look at our health system and design a unique solution for Missouri and Kansas to help ensure every resident has access to health.
It’s clear since the ACA passed five years ago that this is quite a challenge. But as we move toward 2016, I hope we don’t forget what an incredible opportunity this is for us to shape a system that focuses on the prevention and treatment of our most vulnerable residents.
We are so fortunate to live in a region where our local elected officials, our business and civic leaders, our hospitals, our nonprofit organizations, our educators, our philanthropists have placed such a high priority on health.
Think of what we have accomplished this year alone. We’ve increased the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 in both Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, (on the same day, no less), and Independence, Missouri. We’ve come together to build a more sustainable food system. We’ve improved our streets and sidewalks to ensure they are bike- and pedestrian-friendly. We’ve brought sectors together to look at how we can create a community that understands the impact of trauma. We are working to reduce crime and its impact on health.
All of this work is something to be proud of. I have attended multiple conferences this year with my colleagues from across the country. I continue to be in awe of how people from across the country are looking toward us here in Kansas City and what we are doing to create a culture of health. In fact, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation even selected Kansas City, Missouri, to receive their Culture of Health award.
I would be remiss to omit mention of the judgment that capped 2015. As many of you know, the Circuit Court of Jackson County recently issued the final judgment in the litigation between Health Forward and HCA. While it will likely be years of appeals before the Foundation would potentially receive any dollars, I resolve to you that whether we have $400 or $400 million, this Foundation will remain steadfast in our mission of eliminating barriers and promoting health for the uninsured and underserved in our region.
I want to offer my most sincere gratitude to all of you who have made the achievements we saw in 2015 possible. As we look ahead, my New Year’s resolution is to not lose our focus on ensuring that EVERYONE has access to clean air, healthy foods, safe places to live, work and play and access to quality mental, oral and physical health care.
From all of us at Health Forward, we wish you a safe and healthy New Year.