We commit the majority of our funding to unrestricted general operating support. It allows us to invest boldly and deeply in critical, community-led pandemic response efforts beyond a public health crisis, connect with new partners whose work aligns with our grantmaking strategies and support an equitable recovery for our region.
We firmly believe that strengthening our partner organizations from within allows them to be more adaptive, creative and values-focused to engage in sustainable and scalable systems change efforts that advance racial equity and health equity in our communities.
These are one-year grants awarded annually and based on an open competitive grant cycle. Through this funding, we can respond to emerging health equity strategies and crises, maintain an open door for engagement and collaboration with current and prospective partners and develop a deeper understanding of the local health ecosystem to best support health equity strategies in our region. For the 2022 grant cycle, we reviewed grant proposals through the lens of achieving an equitable recovery from the COVID pandemic and strengthening the capacity and infrastructure of organizations to respond to, if not prevent, a future public health crisis.
Multi-year grantee partners receive a renewable general operating support grant for a defined period to support their leadership efforts toward advancing health equity in our region. We began a 3-year grant commitment in 2021 with a cohort of grantee partners. This type of long-term partnership is a strategic learning process for us and one that we envision co-creating with our partners’ expertise, input and organizational capacity. Partners participating in a multi-year partnership will not be eligible for our open annual grant cycle for the duration of the partnership.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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Q: How were organizations selected for multi-year grants?
We have been intentional about how we use data that our grantee partners provide to inform our funding strategies and assess impact in our grantmaking. While we are a relatively new foundation, our grantmaking processes have evolved in alignment with our strategic plan.
Using hyper-local data, having deep conversations with all grantee partners, and developing our evaluation framework has informed the evolution of our general operating support funding. These elements have helped us shape the criteria we used to select our 2021-2023 multi-year partners.
Each partner meets the criteria below, although the way they meet it may look differently depending on its organizational focus, communities served or other aspects:
Q: What are the most significant differences between an annual grant versus a multi-year grant from Healthy Communities Foundation?
Time commitment, on grantee partners and the Foundation, is the main difference between annual and multi-year funding.
For Annual Grantee Partners: We have continued to streamline the application process and reporting requirements to reduce the time spent on the application, site visit, and due diligence process. But, as part of our new equitable evaluation framework, there is much we can learn from the critical work of annual grantee partners, and look forward to engaging with them in a learning process that is rapid and informs our broader strategies.
For Multi-Year Partners: While multi-year partners receive a three-year funding commitment from us, there is also a commitment from organizations to a more in-depth reporting process and participation in learning practices with the foundation that may include qualitative research and communications collaboration.
Q: When do you begin your next multi-year funding cohort?
As part of our equitable evaluation framework, multi-year grantee partners are a part of our learning and impact strategy. The decision to extend multi-year grants (or expand the number and type of multi-year grantee partners) will be based on key learnings and data we derive from our evaluation framework. In addition, we will include up-to-date assessments of our region’s health needs in that decision-making as our region may be in a different phase of the pandemic recovery.
Q: Why did the Healthy Communities Foundation not have an open call or RFP process for multi-year partnerships?
We recognize that organizations have faced many internal and external changes this past year, including navigating new funding shifts. We heard from our partners that it has not been easy managing multiple grant applications at this time. We did not want to add another barrier for organizations that are already operating at maximum capacity. We turned to our learnings from 2020, our conversations with community and grantee partners in early 2021, and our strategic plan to develop our approach to multi-year partnerships.
Q: If I am an annual partner (or multi-year partner), does this mean I am precluded from responsive or strategic funding opportunities?
Our general operating support grants work in tandem with other funding opportunities. In the next three years, we will look closely at grantee partners’ equitable COVID recovery efforts to determine future investment in potential responsive opportunities or strategic initiatives.
General operating support has been and will remain the core of our grantmaking. In 2022, we supported efforts led by our annual and multi-year partners whose focus has been on developing equitable and sustainable health equity solutions across our region, particularly in our Legacy & Equity area. These efforts are critical as community members continue to feel the effects of the pandemic and, now, the most recent public health crisis of monkeypox.
LEGACY & EQUITY – Represents partners that primarily serve communities in Chicago and western Cook County suburbs that experience the greatest health inequities in our region and have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
REGIONAL – Represents partners that serve communities across our entire service region.
SUBURBAN REGIONAL – Represents partners that primarily serve our region’s communities in west suburban Cook County.
Grantee partners’ work aligns with at least one of our grantmaking priorities below, which focus on supporting downstream, midstream and upstream strategies to achieve racial equity and health equity. Learn more about our grantmaking priorities.
ACCESS to quality health services (Downstream)
ADDRESS social determinants of health (Midstream)
ADVOCATE for health policies & systems change (Midstream)
AUGMENT local health knowledge (Upstream)