No one can dispute that we are in a time of unprecedented change. With a new administration this year on the federal and local levels, there are many changes that impact the vulnerable populations we serve.
There is a dynamic momentum around heath in our area. Agencies are truly igniting a culture of health on a number of fronts. We’re seeing an explosion of creativity in solutions to issues like food insecurity in our region. Our recent campaign and development of a cost of food insecurity calculator helped highlight this particular issue and the Kansas City agencies that are leading the nation in this fight.
In 2017, we funded 153 organizations to support a variety of projects. Although our grants are the most visible part of our work, we approach our goals through our leadership, advocacy, and resources.
We work to convene and connect diverse segments of the community to explore creative ways to align our resources and make a greater difference. Our policy agenda helps us plan for and prioritize these gatherings. One example of this is our school-based health services policy agenda item. School-based health services continue to expand as more districts recognize the important intersection between health and success in schools. We are working with these groups to best leverage government reimbursement through educational seminars and meetings.
We’ll continue to identify opportunities to bring folks together in 2018.
Advocacy is critical to our work — especially since we are in a unique position to see and speak to health issues on a broad scale. We’ve been proud to support advocacy capacity building in service organizations, the Children’s Health Insurance Fund to support the mental health needs of youth; Enroll Wyandotte’s effort to encourage sign up and participation in the health insurance marketplace; and the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas and their progress to expand KanCare.
We partner with over 150 organizations across our region and support them in the evolutionary work they are doing. We are working to be a better partner through clearer articulation of our goals. We debuted our theories of change that better states outcomes we want to see in our communities. We appreciate the willingness of organizations to embrace this framework and are grateful for their patience, creativity, and dedication that we see in their projects. We are especially grateful in the dedication they have to their clients and community.
What’s to come
A year ago, Health Forward was awarded $162 million in additional resources to invest into the community through the conclusion of the lawsuit with HCA. As we invest and grow that money, it will enhance our grantmaking capabilities.
Even with additional resources, Health Forward as an individual entity cannot remove all barriers by itself. The cost is beyond millions. We will continue to do our part in partnering and advocating, but to truly address these barriers and build a culture of health in this community, it will require many agencies and sectors coming together toward the shared goal of health for all. And we will do our part to make sure everyone is at the table.
We thank you for being part of that essential work. There is a palpable momentum in our area that emboldens me for the work to come.