As we ring in the new year, we want to highlight reflections and highlights from 2023 that our grant partners have shared, in their own words.
2023 was a banner year for Alabama Arise and Alabama Arise Action members. We advanced dignity, equity and justice, including:
- Cutting the state grocery tax in half!
- Protecting Alabamians’ health coverage during the Medicaid unwinding.
- Diversifying our membership, with data showing Arise met our goal of members with low incomes.
As a member-led organization, we work year-round on policy priorities decided annually by our membership base.
Working with rural communities to close the health coverage gap
This year, the Cover Alabama coalition and Arise’s campaign and organizing teams worked together to reach people directly impacted by the fight for Medicaid expansion. Together, we hosted four major events, including a health fair in Fort Payne and three town halls in Baldwin, Escambia and Walker counties. We focused on rural areas because they are more likely to be struggling to support their hospitals in the absence of Medicaid expansion. Through our events, we saw expanded support in these rural districts, which all are represented by key legislative leaders.
In Fort Payne, we provided needed medical services with an opportunity to learn more about the coverage gap and hear from people in their community about how expansion would help meet the mental health needs in DeKalb County. At our town halls, we heard presentations from PARCA about their research findings on expansion and from panelists of local health care providers who are filling the gap about how urgent expansion is for their community.
Together, we accomplished:
- Working with Alabamians who have Medicaid coverage to maintain their coverage through the Medicaid Unwinding Task Force or find options if they are no longer eligible. As the continued coverage requirements ended on April 1, Arise and our task force partners also worked with Alabama Medicaid to support communication and outreach strategies.
- Convening an Alabama Child Nutrition Workgroup focused on school and summer meals for children with Feeding Alabama and the Alabama Department of Education. We also maintained two other hunger working groups. These efforts have led to an increase in children’s access to free school meals.
- Growing our membership diversity and benefits to strengthen Arise’s connection to the community and those most impacted by state policy. We ramped up our gift membership program, and gift members made up about 15% of Arise’s 2023 membership. We began quarterly New Member Orientations and initiated a process to increase our Spanish-language resources.
- Gathering in person for our Annual Meeting for the first time since 2019 and hosting our first ever “hybrid” Annual Meeting. We are grateful that about 250 members attended and more than 400 members voted on our 2023 policy priorities. This member engagement ensures our work stays focused on the issues Alabamians care about the most.
Civic Health Alliance
National | Building Capacity for Health Advocacy Grant Partner
Civic Health Alliance has taken another lap around the sun and we couldn’t be more excited about the work we’ve done and the work we’re going to do in the new year. This year has had many wins and we’re proud to say our outreach efforts have motivated more folks to participate in civic health. Our most significant accomplishment this year was that Civic Health Alliance officially obtained 501(c)3 status! This is a huge milestone in the progression of our organization and further solidifies that the work we’re doing is impacting communities across the country.
This year CHA launched multiple initiatives that we’d love to highlight! From our student ambassador program to our Civic Health Spotlights, we’ve been expanding our champions, partners and volunteers across the country.
- Civic Health Spotlight: The Civic Health Spotlights highlight the stories of everyday heroes who are bringing civic engagement into their healthcare settings and communities. We hope you see yourself in these stories and know there’s so much you can do in your own community. Check out the spotlight article featuring our student ambassador, Brittney Sheena & Nurse Adele Butler
- Student Ambassador Program: We launched our first cohort of our student ambassador program in February and our second cohort in September! We’re proud to share that we have 14 amazing student ambassadors, some of which are pictured below!
- Publications & Media : Our team has published so many articles about our work here at CHA. Below are some highlights of the teams work!
- Training in trust: Tools and resources for advancing a healthy democracy by Russia Chavis Cardenas, MPP; Stella A. Safo, MD, MPH; and Brittney Sheena, MPH,MD Candidate published in American Medical Associations’ Compendium titled “MedEd’s horizon: Just, merciful, diverse and equitable”, which you can download HERE.
- Voting for Health: A Medical Students Journey to Increasing Civic Engagement in Health Care Spaces by Jessica Rebaza, MS, CHES, MD Candidate
- Director of Strategy and Partnership, Russia Chavis Cardenas, MPP, who recently testified before the Los Angeles City Council over the summer. Her presentation was about advocating for the creation of an Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC). We’re excited to say her work was feature in multiple news outlets.
- Toolkit: This year we designed and mailed out toolkits for some of the folks who have supported our work! Below is a sneak peak of what’s inside. If you’d like a toolkit mailed to you, please reach out to [email protected]
Morristown, TN | Vaccine Plus Grant Partner
Describing 2023, I would say it was a year of numerous challenges and changes. As we reflect on the transformative journey of this year, we are filled with immense pride and gratitude in presenting HOLA Lakeway’s Impact Report.
This report serves as a testament to the collective efforts, achievements, and profound impact we’ve made together as a community devoted to empowering immigrant and refugee families.
At HOLA Lakeway, we believe in the power of resilience, belonging, and education to create positive change. The stories within these pages go beyond statistics; they are narratives of individuals and families whose lives have been touched and transformed through our collective commitment. We extend our deepest gratitude to each member of our community – our supporters, partners, volunteers, and the families who trust us with their journey. Your unwavering support has been the cornerstone of our success, and it is through your collaboration that we continue to make a meaningful impact.
Advocacy Program Highlights
- Day on the Hill Initiative: In a landmark move, HOLA embarked on its inaugural Day on the Hill in 2023, a significant advocacy milestone. Collaborating with students from Walters State Community College and Carson-Newman University, HOLA partnered with Education Trust in Tennessee to provide training for these fearless students. Their mission: to engage with state legislators, including representatives from their respective counties, and advocate on behalf of their needs. This empowering initiative not only equipped the students with essential advocacy skills but also marked a powerful step towards fostering civic engagement and grassroots advocacy within our community.
- Morristown Voices Project: Initiated by HOLA Lakeway, the Morristown Voices project brings together a dedicated team of Morristown students, community members, and neighbors. Over three months, this collective conducted extensive research to delve into the experiences of the greater Morristown region concerning racism and prejudice. Through interviews and polls, valuable stories and images were gathered from individuals with ties to Morristown. The Morristown Voices project stands as a testament to HOLA’s commitment to amplifying the voices of our community and addressing vital social issues.
- Champion Community Members: At HOLA, our champion community members are the dedicated parents who passionately advocate for policy changes, striving to ensure equal opportunities for their children. These advocates play a crucial role in shaping policies that impact the educational landscape, fostering an environment where every child can thrive. If you share this commitment and wish to join our champion community members, please reach out to us below. Your involvement is a powerful catalyst for positive change.
Institute for Exceptional Care
National | Innovation Grant Partner
As 2023 comes to a close, we want to take a moment to say thank you for all your support that enabled us to have such a successful year. In three short years, people across the country have come to appreciate the importance and impact of our work.
For example, over 115 individuals from 32 states have expressed interest in joining our new advocacy network, the IDD Advocate Corps, and our programs have been featured through Stanford, Harvard, the Administration on Community Living, and on Jason’s Connection, an online disability-focused community with over 330,000 members.
IEC’s success underscores both the urgent demand for our work and the need for support to expand our reach and impact. Some of this year’s highlights include:
- Convened over 170 national and state health policymakers and disability advocates to set priority health outcomes and national goals to improve the health of people with IDD by 2035. Look out for the release of Health Outcomes That Matter in IDD in early 2024!
- Created the Always Uniquely Me app, a tool usable on any digital device, that helps people with IDD and their caregivers/partners self-advocate in stressful healthcare situations.
- Completion of a National Roadmap for Disability Inclusive Healthcare, a collective effort by our ABC3 coalition. The Roadmap lays out the actions needed to drive culture change and preparedness for all general clinicians to better serve people with IDD. Look out for its public release in early 2024.
- Crafted our beliefs about what healthcare should look like, centering on supporting dignity and validation of every person; self-determination and tailored decision-making; and honoring a person’s goals as the primary focus of care delivery.
La Casita Center
Louisville, Kentucky | Vaccine Plus Grant Partner
As we near the end of 2023, we are reflecting again on the enormous support that you, our friends and family, have provided us here at La Casita. Our mission, as you know, is to accompany and empower families in the Latinx community, while also providing a foundation for systemic change with long-term effects, and this work is simply not possible without you.
Program Highlight: Health Empowerment
La Casita Center has been doing public health work for many years. But when COVID19 first reached our state, our work evolved to meet the community’s major concern: How to stay safe during a pandemic.
We spearheaded COVID19 testing and vaccination work within the immigrant and Latinx community, setting up events reaching hundreds of people, while also creating amazing friendships and partnerships with local and statewide health providers and government agencies that we continue to work with today.
And thanks to our dedicated team, we continue our health empowerment work, making a real difference in healthcare access for the Latinx community. Every day.
They’ve created easy-to-understand resources that help everyone – regardless of their language or reading skills – get important health information. Acting as guides, they help people set up doctor’s appointments, find the right healthcare providers, and understand how the healthcare system in the United States works.
They’re passionate about keeping our community healthy, encouraging folks to take part in programs that prevent health problems. They’re also creating videos every two weeks that talk about common health issues in our community. But what’s truly remarkable is that they take healthcare right to our neighborhoods through vaccination clinics, working hand in hand with our healthcare partners to provide vaccines and health info to our community.
Our team’s dedication is the driving force behind our mission to make healthcare easy to access, empower our Latinx community, and promote healthy living.
Tennessee Health Care Campaign
In spite of deep partisan divides in our state and nation, THCC engaged with state and national partners to win major health policy improvements in 2023. These victories will have far-reaching impact:
adults on TennCare won access to dental care.
Tennesseans on Medicare won $35 copays for insulin prescriptions.
Tennesseans assisted with access to health care by THCC licensed nonprofit insurance agents.
Tennesseans reached on TV, radio, and social media by THCC’s COVID vaccine public-service announcements featuring trusted local messengers.
Tennesseans reached at 183 community meetings, events and conferences.
state and local lawmakers engaged in dialogue and educated about the need for better health policy in Tennessee.
Tennessee is one of only nine states that have not expanded Medicaid. That means that an estimated 300,000 Tennesseans have no access to health insurance. Communities of color and rural communities are most impacted. Tennessee’s rural hospitals flounder under the weight of uncompensated care. As a result of poor health policy, underserved communities suffer worse health outcomes, such as tragically high maternal and infant mortality and unchecked opioid misuse.
THCC is building toward a day when the voices of underserved communities are heard. In 2024, we’ll be reaching out to rural communities to build coalitions, recruit allies and connect constituents with policymakers. We will keep a close eye on promising policy initiatives at the state and federal levels that could help close the coverage gap.
We have had a busy year ahead. THCC’s nonprofit insurance agents are tackling the need for insurance coverage one family at a time. Our Vaccine Ambassador Program is promoting accurate vaccine information through trusted local medical professionals. Our annual Advocacy Conference teaches advocates how to build bridges to health care access. Our Rural Health committee is about to publish a report on strategies for rural hospital resilience.
Next year holds the promise of great progress in achieving equitable access to affordable, quality health care in Tennessee. We cannot accept that gender, race, ethnicity or ZIP code determine access to care in Tennessee. We need a campaign to fight for equitable, quality health care for all Tennesseans. We need to raise up the voices of people like you across the state.
United Vision for Idaho
In response to the cultural, social, and political challenges facing our society, UVI conceived The United Vision Project. What began as an initiative has since evolved into a national training hub, operating daily with dedicated volunteers from various regions and political affiliations. Our overarching goal remains the same: to engage individuals who have grown distrustful of government and democracy, often gravitating towards authoritarian influences. We initiate complex and transformative conversations, aiming to unearth shared values, build relationships, and reimagine democracy as both a process and an aspirational governance theory—one that, if practiced, would bring benefits to us all.
At the heart of our work lies a commitment to fortify the foundational pillars of our democratic system, a prerequisite for achieving and sustaining any of our necessary policy goals. To accomplish this, we recognize the imperative of cultivating a form of people power that transcends political boundaries based in relationship building. Over the past three years, we have engaged in thousands of authentic conversations, spanning six states, and fostering essential dialogues. Our objective is to instill a collective sense of agency, effectively addressing the threats facing our democracy while emphasizing the pivotal role of conservative and rural states in our collective journey.
Through active authentic and active dialog exploring the challenges facing people across identity, we remain dedicated to creating an inclusive and just society that benefits all, with a particular focus on those most directly impacted by disparities. Our unwavering commitment to these principles drives us to build a diverse, people-powered movement—an indispensable force for nurturing and building a healthy democracy.
Our work in Idaho, in particular, has played a central role in the fight for social justice. By redirecting attention and funding to efforts that can genuinely create a broad-based, people-driven movement, we are paving the way for a brighter future for current and future generations.
Part of our mission involves assessing the collective landscape and implementing strategic and tactical actions to advance the principles and practice of a truly inclusive, multi-racial, pluralistic framework. Our belief is that our democratic system, currently under great and unprecedented threat, we can find common ground. Some fundamental values unite us, and we advocate for the renewal of our societal contracts, emphasizing foundational agreements including:
- Equality: Ensuring that individuals are seen as equal before the law and have equal access to power.
- Freedom of Expression: Upholding the right of people to voice their opinions, criticize the government, and share information without fear of retribution.
- Human Rights: Placing a strong emphasis on protecting individual and minority rights, ensuring fair and just treatment for everyone.
- Pluralism: Celebrating diversity and allowing multiple viewpoints and beliefs to coexist and be respected.
- Transparency and Accountability: Holding our government accountable and ensuring it operates openly and responsively to the people.
- Citizen Participation: Encouraging and valuing the active engagement of the populace in political and civic activities.
- Justice and Fairness: Upholding an impartial and accessible legal system, ensuring everyone receives fair treatment.
In this recorded webinar, hosted by the Rx Foundation in May 2022, you’ll learn how United Vision Project (UVP) has trained an army of volunteers across multiple states to engage in digital deep listening: using texting technology, empathy, and curiosity to draw out people’s views on issues ranging from health, mental health, and reproductive care to voting rights and policing. Adrienne Evans (Executive Director, UVP) will also share insights from the project’s rich dataset of over 94,000 individual conversations across five states—representing the largest collection ever of information about US residents sympathetic to extreme nationalist movements and ideas.
Some highlights of our past year’s achievements include:
- Unprecedented Outreach, Foundational Discovery, and Learnings: Engaging in extensive outreach and deep listening to individuals and communities to discover common interests and values. identifying areas to deepen conversations to more deeply engage in the complexities and break down the binaries that can keep us fixed in identity without the invitation or ability to move together toward our shared values and common interests.
- Investing in Building a New Spirit of Collaborative Partnerships: Forging partnerships with organizations at all levels of organizing, from local, state, national to international, to foster collaboration and co-collaboration to create a more inclusive and just democracy.
- Research, Analysis & Synthesis into Practice: Drawing upon ground-level learning to challenge conventional approaches and inform innovative, relational organizing rooted in authenticity that can inform a reorientation to social justice organizing that has lasting and durable power to achieve our goals and build a world where we all get what we need, deserve and must have to thrive.
- Strategic Narrative Development Production and Distribution: Developing comprehensive narrative guides to facilitate complex conversations across differences, building trust and deeper thinking aligned with democratic values. Disrupting the binaries of political division and the an “us” versus “them” caste that keeps us from hearing, learning and moving differently together.
- The United Vision National Training Hub: Launching a national training hub providing monthly training and daily outreach in ARC and ARO methods, equipping individuals and organizations with skills for meaningful engagement in their own lives and communities.
- The Democracy Resource Hub: Creating a centralized resource hub in partnership with Horizons Project and 22nd Century Initiative, offering resources to guide community-based activism, break down access barriers, and support a nationwide movement for democratic practice.
- Community-Based Work: Collaborating with local organizing efforts across the country, to invest deeply together in areas that have faced extremist and anti-democratic influences, ensuring a united effort with contributions from a broad network of organizations and leaders committed to the well-being and future of our communities that cannot be achieved working in silos or going it alone.
- International Exchange: Hosting Victor-Catalin Toma, director of the European Youth Village, to explore the potential for international collaboration and U.S. replication of a game-changing rural youth organizing program adopted by the European Union. This initiative is developing a strategic blueprint with leading U.S. youth organizers to address the challenges of youth engagement in rural areas across the country. As Idaho youth increasingly are leaving Idaho and other rural communities, investments are deeply needed to foster the health of our rural communities and the young people, who given alternatives, support and investment would have the opportunity to reinvest in their own communities.
- Idaho Rural Democracy Summit: Bringing it all home. In a two-day convening in Boise, Idaho, with a third day that included a visit to rural parts of the Treasure Valley. The summit brought together local and national leaders, as well as our community, to examine the pillars of democracy, identify practical interventions, and engage with the people and places of Idaho. Filmed by OMG Female Productions this marked the start of a story telling journey that will deliver poignant and powerful insights, and culminate in a documentary that centers Idaho and expands across the social justice pro-democracy landscape to see in practice the fundamental aspects of organizing and the transformation that is possible when we invest in each other.
- Screening of Raised by Wolves: Hosting a special screening of the Sundance Premier award-winning film with a Q&A featuring Director & Producer Dana Coester and Joel Beeson. The film explores online youth culture in Appalachia, shedding light on the risks of radicalization through exposure to weaponized misinformation and far-right extremism in social media and online gaming spaces. It also documents the escalation of violence in America in real-time and close to home.
Our mission is clear: to create a society that benefits all, with a particular focus on those most directly impacted by disparities. By listening to people across ideological spectrums and engaging in meaningful dialogue, we can reimagine community-centered activism and build a diverse, people-powered movement essential for a healthy democracy.
National | Building Capacity for Health Advocacy Grant Partner
As we say goodbye to 2023, gratitude fills our hearts for the remarkable journey toward a healthier democracy at Vot-ER. 🙏 This year emphasized the potent fusion of voting and health, showcasing the impact when united for a shared purpose. 🤝
✨ Civic Health Month Triumph: Starting strong, New Jersey declared August as Civic Health Month—a celebration of civic engagement, recognizing that community health intertwines with active democratic participation. 🌍💙
👩⚕️ Healthcare & Voting: Exciting news! Two Ohio medical schools now allocate dedicated time for medical students to vote. In addition, Medicaid Automatic Voter Registration is on the brink of approval in Michigan, forging a link between healthcare and civic responsibility resonating nationwide. 🏥🌐
🌐 700+ Partnerships: Since 2020, Vot-ER’s growth has been phenomenal, connecting with 700+ hospitals and clinics. These partnerships form the bedrock of our mission, fostering critical alliances that transcend geographical boundaries. Together, we’ve championed a democracy prioritizing the health and well-being of every individual. 🤲💖
🎙️ Educating & Inspiring: In 2023, we proudly presented at 10 major health conferences, spreading our message of civic engagement far and wide. With 89,000 voters registered or prepared since 2020, our collective impact stands as a beacon of hope for the future of democracy. 🌟🔗
👩🎓 Civic Health Fellowship Triumph: The 67 Vot-ER Civic Health Fellowship graduates this year exemplify the transformative power of education and action. Armed with organizing skills, they actively engaged their communities, creating ripples of positive change destined to resonate for years. 🌱🌎
🌈 Impactful Actions & Healthy Democracy Campaign: Together, we accomplished 181 high-impact actions, witnessing the formation of 49 Healthy Democracy Campaign Teams with 164 dedicated participants. Each action, each team, and each participant contributed to our collective effort, fostering a democracy thriving on inclusivity, empathy, and shared responsibility. 🌈💪
🚀 Looking to the Future: As we wrap up 2023, our focus shifts to 2024 with unwavering enthusiasm. Brace for more partnerships, initiatives, new programming, and defining moments in our ongoing journey towards a healthier democracy.
🙌 Gratitude: To the tens of thousands of healthcare professionals who played a pivotal role this year, assisting 12,815 voters through events, badge scans, trainings, and voter registration tabling—your commitment to the intersection of voting and health propels our success. We are profoundly grateful for your unwavering support. 🌹🤗
🌐 Join the Movement: Eager to learn more about our initiatives and partnerships? Explore our journey at vot-er.org and discover how you can actively contribute to the movement for a healthier democracy.
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