Access to affordable, high-quality healthcare is integral to leading a healthy life. There are also social and systemic conditions—factors like who we are and where we are born, live, and work—that play critical, if not more influential, roles in our overall health. Using health equity as an overarching principle and lens, Healthy Communities Foundation funds organizations and collaborates on community-led solutions that expand opportunities for all our region’s community members to experience a complete sense of health and well-being.
As a community-led and engaged foundation that serves a 27 zip-code service region in Chicago and the western Cook County suburbs, we seek to:
Communities hold the solutions to the issues they face. Therefore, we practice trust-based philanthropy, which centers transformative grantmaking and how we engage, learn from, and collaborate with community. This approach influences how we steward our Foundation’s resources and continuously evolve our strategies to achieve our mission and vision.
Our mission is to measurably improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities in our service area by promoting health equity, quality and access.
We envision that individuals, families, and communities in our service region, regardless of where they are born, grow, live and work, have equal and ample access to the care they need to experience full, healthy, and happy lives.
Energizing and investing in the existing ability of our local community to design and support health solutions.
Strengthening efforts that provide resources and opportunities to lead healthy, productive lives.
Understanding and addressing immediate needs while investing in long-term systems change with a health equity frame.
Supporting and valuing experiential and evidence-based practices that produce measurable results.
Building a culture of learning and transparency; Convening community to share wisdom and cultivate trust and collaboration.
Being responsive to grantee partners and communities most affected by challenges that impact their health and wellness.
Maintaining the highest legal and ethical standards in the stewardship of our Foundation’s resources.
All community members of our service region should have access to resources and opportunities that improve their health and well-being. The compounding impact of structural racism and other systemic conditions over decades impede these goals and disproportionately affect BILPOC (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and/or other People of Color) communities. These communities have long experienced worse health outcomes, decreased life expectancy, and less access to health coverage and resources that contribute to a sustainable quality of life.
We seek to achieve health equity by identifying and eliminating the root causes of structural racism upheld by existing structures and systems. This drives our mission to support organizations and efforts focused on hyperlocal needs and systemic solutions that improve the quality of life for those who experience the greatest health inequities in our service region.
As a health conversion foundation, we fund a geographic region defined by the original service area of MacNeal Hospital, whose sale in 1999 established our endowment. Our funding region covers a five-mile radius around the hospital, comprising 27 zip codes where more than 900,000 community members in Chicago and western Cook County suburbs call home. It is an area with diverse and evolving populations, health opportunities, and health outcomes.
During our strategic planning process in 2017, it was critical to develop a community and data-informed strategy that would advance our work and impact as a foundation in our service region. We delved deep into detailed, hyperlocal health data in and around the MacNeal Hospital service area. We also tapped into our extensive network of partners, researchers and community stakeholders to commission research on data gaps we had and learn more.
With community expertise and local and national data sources, we saw a clear correlation between racial inequities and longstanding health outcomes. This insight fueled our renewed mission and vision as a foundation and prioritized our funding region to zip codes that have experienced the greatest health inequities (our “Equity” area) around the hospital’s original service area.
The Foundation became a legacy health conversion foundation from the sale of MacNeal Hospital to a private company in 1999. The Foundation officially opened its doors in 2000.
A new Board of Directors was appointed and new professional staff were hired.
The Foundation’s leadership initiated a comprehensive strategic planning process focused on re-envisioning its grantmaking approach to serving community members’ health needs in its service region.
The Foundation was officially renamed Healthy Communities Foundation and its leadership implemented its strategic plan. The plan outlines its mission, vision, core values and commitment to prioritize most of its grantmaking as general operating support.
In response to the devastating impact of the COVID pandemic on its service region, the Foundation enacted its COVID Response 2021-2023 strategy. This plan commits to strengthening its service region’s health ecosystem and investing in community-led efforts to advance racial equity and health equity.
The Foundation launched its inaugural multi-year funding partnerships as a new strand of its core general operating support and as part of its trust-based philanthropic approach.