Giving Compass' Take:

• Grantmakers In Health offer insights into the ways that philanthropy can support health equity - meaning access to care and healthy options for disadvantaged communities including poor individuals and people of color.

• Are these goals and methods aligned with your philanthropic mission? How can partnerships work to scale access to healthcare and related services? 

• Learn why basic necessities like food and shelter are essential to healthcare

Health equity is an area of intense focus for philanthropy, fueled by a sense of urgency about the need to reverse long-standing destructive trends. It is an area in which health philanthropy has shown consistent leadership in support of innovative work. Our goal in this supplement is to lift up new voices and approaches in health equity and to highlight the work of funders and community organizations that use health equity as a lens for grantmaking and partnerships.

The quest for health equity has its roots in more than a century of data showing that morbidity and mortality rates for poor Americans and people of color are significantly worse than those for the white mainstream.

From birth to death, race and class have an effect on rates of disease risk, exposure to environmental hazards and socioeconomic stressors, and access to health necessities such as healthy food and safe housing.

Health funders who have partnered with non-health organizations are an example of a growing interest in working across sectors to improve health equity. Many health funders recognize that in low-income urban neighborhoods, community development offers a vital pathway for improving the underlying conditions that shape health. By partnering with community development organizations, they have begun to invest in affordable housing, community clinics, grocery stores, child care, and other health-promoting initiatives.

This level of effort would require focusing on root causes...these include the distribution of wealth, education and opportunities for young people, and justice based on race, ethnicity, and gender—and the willingness to take risks, invest for the long term, and work across sectors.

Such work would be difficult and controversial, but because of its ability to act independently and break new ground, philanthropy may be particularly suited for taking it on.

Read the full article about health equity by Faith Mitchell at Stanford Social Innovation Review.