How a Small Foundation Builds Communities’ Power to Advance Health Justice, by Supporting Advocacy, Organizing, and Civic Engagement

Rx Foundation’s Executive Director, Jennie Riley, recently joined Exponent Philanthropy’s The Catalytic Philanthropy podcast to discuss how the Foundation pivoted to funding Advocacy, Organizing, and Civic Engagement to advance health justice in 2019.

Listen to both parts of “How a Small Foundation Builds Communities’ Power to Advance Health Justice, by Supporting Advocacy, Organizing, and Civic Engagement”

Key Takeaways

Sustained, long-term, durable change was a North Star of the Foundation when pivoting to funding Advocacy, Organizing, and Civic Engagement
Not just what we funded changed, but how we funded changed too – we began supporting partners beyond the check through a Targeted Coaching program, Learning Community, Network-Weaving and Convenings
The Foundation intentionally focused on building capacity, infrastructure, and connective tissue in local and national ecosystems for sustained changed rather than focusing or setting policy agendas (i.e. Medicaid expansion)
Health and wellbeing involves healthcare access but that’s where health justice begins not ends – it also includes clean water and air, nutritious food, affordable housing, racial and gender equity, living wages, and more, that all determine our health and wellbeing
It takes a long-term vision to do this, moving from transactional to transformational = what is important may not be what we can count or measure in reports, and the ripple effects or impacts set in motion now may not be seen during the term of the grant
We are working toward a future where communities have power and agency to call on our institutions to do the right thing and what communities are asking for
We seek to be an accomplice in building stronger leadership, networks, and organizations for systems change
How are our Theories of Change moving us more towards Community Power? Philanthropy has to fund in a way that supports accountability between an organization and their community rather than to a funder
An older Black woman is holding a sign at an outdoor protest that reads: "Protect My Health Care"

Pivoting to Advocacy and Organizing: Changing Grantmaking Tactics in Service of Our Core Mission

In an article originally written for Exponent Philanthropy’s Blog in July 2021, Executive Director of the Rx Foundation, Jennie Riley, shares how the Foundation has pivoted to funding Advocacy, Organizing, and Civic Engagement.

In the first 18 years, the Rx Foundation made over $20 million in grants to support innovative leaders and projects, largely based within the health care delivery system. While many of those grants were impactful, we saw the limits of programmatic changes in broadly improving health care quality and access.

The Building Capacity for Health Advocacy program was a big shift and logical next step for a foundation established in 2002 by a family in Boston who had a national vision of “a prescription for better health care.”

Green Arrows

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