Health Forward commits to building inclusive, powerful, healthy communities


The week Americans commemorate Martin Luther King Jr., Health Forward Foundation will share a new purpose and strategies that will guide our work for the foreseeable future. 

As much as Dr. King spoke on civil rights and racial justice, economic justice was at the core of his activism. As he penned in 1963 from a Birmingham jail, “whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Fifty-four years after his assasination, we still share systemic and insidious problems of structural racism and economic exclusion. 

Dr. King spoke of the economic struggles of Black Americans and the racial wealth divide, which has since reached chasmic proportions. He challenged bootstrap mentality, the prevailing false narrative surrounding the American dream, because he understood that many people, notably those of color, didn’t even have boots. In his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, he made clear that “a second evil which plagues the modern world is that of poverty.”

At Health Forward, the full weight of Dr. King’s dream calls us to examine our power and privilege, and consider the best and highest use of our leadership, advocacy, and resources. Grounded in this spirit, and standing in the light of his legacy, there is no better time to share Health Forward’s new purpose: 

Every day, we work to support and build inclusive, powerful, healthy communities characterized by racial equity and economically just systems.

This higher call for Health Forward’s staff, board of directors, and Community Advisory Committee challenges us to humbly live this purpose, with immense care, deep conviction, and bold action that results in fair and just communities where everyone can be healthy and thrive..

Why has Health Forward established a purpose? 

Our purpose clarifies Health Forward’s reason for being. While our mission communicates our what and our how, our purpose is our why. It is embedded in everything we do, occupies our mindset, and guides our work and stewardship.

As a funder, in partnership with committed stakeholders throughout Kansas and Missouri, we have the resources to build new systems and shape a society in which all can participate, where people who are working hard to make ends meet prosper, where people of color are free from the structural racism that creates disparate health outcomes, and where the conditions in rural communities don’t hinder their health. 

Healthy people, community power, and equitable and just places are the future of our region.

This week, we will share our new plan to support and build inclusive, powerful, and healthy communities. 

Healthy people, community power, and equitable and just places are the future of our region. We can have high-quality, culturally affirming community health systems accessible to all. We can have strong community organizations and voices uniting their power to solve our greatest challenges. We can have equitable and just places without disparities dividing our real estate and our realities. 

The path to move health forward will be an uphill climb. There is no doubt our journey will be challenged. But in trying moments, we will draw on Dr. King’s resolve: “we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.”