Home Foundation Announces Strategic Direction And “Upstream Approach”

Foundation Announces Strategic Direction And “Upstream Approach”

This week the Foundation for a Healthy High Point adopts our Strategic Direction 2022, developed to maximize our assets and our ability to improve the long-standing health issues confronting our community.

“Our funding will now prioritize efforts that seek to address the underlying factors that cause poor health,” said Curtis Holloman, executive director. These include non-medical causes—social determinants—such as neighborhoods lacking transportation and affordable housing and lack of access to nutritious food, mental health care, and safe neighborhoods designed to encourage physical activity. “We recognize that it is harder to impact social determinants of health,” Holloman emphasized, “but we must do so.”

The Strategic Direction employs an “upstream approach“ to address the complex factors at the source of community health problems. Holloman explained the upstream approach with this example: “Let’s say a community hires contractors to regularly remove stones that collect at the base of a mountain stream. A better approach would be to go upstream to fix the problems causing the rocks to fall. That would be a long-term solution.”  

Guided by our Strategic Direction, the Foundation will take an upstream approach to find long-term solutions to community health challenges in Greater High Point. Our grantmaking will invest in the collaboration among community leaders and Funded Partners necessary to achieve these goals.

The new strategy calls for the Foundation to increase its role as a convener, an advocate, and a collaborator: to strengthen cross-sector efforts targeting the complex factors that affect health.

Community Input + Data
The Foundation commissioned a study as a first step toward developing a strategy for future grantmaking. “We intentionally used an inclusive planning process to determine how the Foundation works with community partners to support the well-being of all who call High Point, Jamestown, Trinity, and Archdale home,” said Board Chair Elliott Williams. “We considered input from residents and strategic partners, learnings from our previous nine years, and detailed economic and public health data.”

The completed study and supporting reports are available on the Foundation’s website, including a comprehensive analysis of local economic and health data, a summary of current community needs assessments, and a retrospective study of the Foundation’s previous grants.

“We especially appreciate the responses of community members who participated in the focus groups, listening sessions, and surveys,” noted Curtis. “We are also grateful for the insights we received from interviews with civic, business, healthcare, nonprofit, and neighborhood leaders.”

Leading Health Issues
With roots deeply seated in our community’s health network, the Foundation for a Healthy High Point was founded to address health and wellness beyond individual medical services and care. Our research identified these social determinants as having the most significant potential impact on community health outcomes in Greater High Point.

  1. Neighborhood Conditions & Built Environment: the need for affordable housing, greater access to healthy food, safer neighborhoods, and improved transportation options for people of all ages and abilities
  2. Healthcare Access & Quality: a lack of available providers, health insurance coverage, and treatment for mental health and addiction diseases
  3. Social & Community Context: interpersonal and social factors, such as family abuse and neighborhood violence, can create a toxic environment and traumatic stress, especially in areas with the least resources.
  4. Economic Stability: poverty is characterized by limited job opportunities with a living wage, food insecurity, fewer housing options, and increased health disparities
  5. Education Access & Quality: including an even greater need for attention to students and families in High Point to improve educational and employment outcomes

While the Foundation for a Healthy High Point is committed to impacting all social determinants, we also recognize that other organizations and foundations are highly focused on Economic Stability and Education Access & Quality. With that in mind, the Foundation will emphasize investment in the social determinants of Neighborhood & Built Environment, Healthcare Access & Quality related to mental and behavioral health, and Social & Community Context.

Consistent with this strategy, the Foundation will continue to invest in areas we already identified as critical, including maternal and child health, early childhood education, and behavioral health.

Focus on Health Equity
Our research revealed major social determinants of health that affect Greater High Point. We also wanted to better understand the most pressing issues facing our community from the viewpoint of those most directly affected.

Throughout our area, we learned more about the residents and neighborhoods that have historically had the fewest opportunities and least access to community resources. These marginalized communities have the greatest health disparities, affected by all the social, neighborhood, and clinical issues we identified.

The World Health Organization defines social determinants as “the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age”—the larger forces and systems that affect health.

Another way we intend to increase the Foundation’s impact is by addressing this inequality in services and circumstances. Future requests for proposals will specify targets for measuring progress in each of the prioritized social determinants of health with the broad goal of reducing health disparities in the Greater High Point community.

Diversifying our Role

The Foundation for a Healthy High Point’s Strategic Direction 2022 expands how the Foundation will engage with our community. “An upstream approach usually means trying to solve very complicated problems and involve many players with different responsibilities,” noted Holloman. The Strategic Direction calls for the Foundation to take various leadership positions.

Notably, the Foundation will increase its role as a convener and advocate, promoting collaboration among nonprofits, philanthropy, business, government agencies, and neighborhood leaders necessary to remove structural barriers and unpack the complex systems that cause poor health.

Expanding the Foundation’s RolesConvener: We will intentionally bring stakeholders together around critical issues affecting the health of the community.Researcher: We will engage our residents and community members to better understand the health-related needs, gaps, and assets that can be leveraged toward better health outcomes.Advocate: We will increase our impact through public awareness campaigns, education about health issues, and by building a better public understanding of those issues and policies that affect the health of Greater High Point.Collaborator: We will strengthen relationships with communities and develop cross-sector connections with other foundations, government, businesses, education, and nonprofit leaders as we work to find long-term solutions.Funder: Through our grantmaking, we will support innovative programs and initiatives which bring evidence-based solutions to address the root causes of poor health outcomes.Capacity Builder: We will continue to serve as a collaborative entity, building shared resources that strengthen the community and our funded partners’ ability to affect change.

Looking Upstream
Committing to an upstream approach to tackle the long-standing health issues confronting our community is an ambitious proposition. We are grateful to our Board, staff, and strategic partners who helped us research and target specific social determinants of health. Together we can address the underlying causes of poor health.

Our Strategic Direction will guide the Foundation as we work with community leaders and our Funded Partners, combining evidence-based practices and innovation to improve the well-being of all who call Greater High Point home.

Read the Foundation’s Strategic Direction 2022.

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