In the weeks since the 2023 Grantmakers In Health conference in Minneapolis, where we gathered as a community of grantmakers seeking to advance health equity, I have been reminded often of the inspiring and encouraging conversations we had by an envelope of Post-It Notes sitting on my desk. These notes make me smile. They make me feel connected. And their messages motivate me to continue the journey from health to health equity for the long haul.

These Post-It Notes were created during a conference learning lab, The Journey from Health to Health Equity: Moving from Words to Action, that I had the honor to moderate. During the session, nearly 100 colleagues from the field joined together to acknowledge the proliferation of well-crafted statements from foundations publicly committing to health equity in the wake of the past few years of racial reckoning. Together, we discussed how words are not enough—and the reality that we are each on a distinct path in our journeys toward bringing those words into action.

With this encouragement, participants began conversations with other session attendees—first the community at their table and then the community of the room—surfacing challenges, concerns, learnings, and wins. As the expertise emerged from the room, so did some key ideas and inspiration for the journey:

  • Be bold, brave, and comfortable with being uncomfortable. This means becoming more content with not knowing everything and accepting that you can do the work without having every answer while being vulnerable and embracing discomfort.
  • Keep learning. The education process is never ending, and attendees shared resources like the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation framework and the Equity Footprint, books like Evicted, and articles like “The Illusion of Inclusive Workspaces” to continue learning and advancing this work.
  • Embrace community. This means requiring meaningful community engagement with real decision-making power in funding opportunities, evaluating who is missing from the health equity conversations in our communities, and transitioning from community centered to community led.
  • Bring others in the organization along for the journey. Educating and bringing board members into the process and holding leadership accountable for the commitments made to the community are critical to adoption and success.
  • Find and grow the joy in this work. This joyfulness is critical to ensure endurance and longevity as we all commit to doing this work for the long haul.

Read the full article about advancing health equity by Regan Gruber Moffitt at Grantmakers in Health.