The Colorado Health Foundation has more than two decades of history. In this time, we have undergone many changes, shifting partnerships and roles in our work. Though our mission and focus have evolved over the years, so has our impact on improving the health of Coloradans. Today, we remain steadfast in our vision that across Colorado each of us can say: “We have all we need to live healthy lives.”
Where We Were: The Early Days of the Foundation (1995 - 2010)
In 1995, the nonprofit hospital system HealthONE entered into a joint venture with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). As a result of the joint venture, HCA-HealthONE became the largest health care provider in the Denver metro area. The partnership also marked the beginning of the Colorado Health Foundation, formerly called HealthONE Alliance.
In the early years of the Foundation, we operated primarily through our Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs, medical research, community-based programs and grantmaking. After HealthONE Alliance officially rebranded itself as the Colorado Health Foundation in 2006, we increasingly adopted a newfound commitment to philanthropy throughout Colorado. The Foundation adopted a vision to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation, and organized our work by three community outcome areas: Health Care, Health Coverage and Healthy Living. Between 2006 and 2010, the Foundation increased grantmaking and contributions nearly 500 percent, from $20.4 million to almost $100 million in 2010.
How We Got Here: Strategic Evolution (2011 - 16)
In 2011, the Foundation was involved in a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to sell our equity stake in HCA-HealthONE to HCA for $1.45 billion. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers approved the sale on Oct. 14 that year. Though the Foundation continued to operate GME programs, this event signaled a shift in our identity and responsibility to positively impact health throughout Colorado. This also included embracing philanthropic, system-change work beyond grantmaking in terms of strategic engagement in public policy.
After the sale, our assets grew to more than $2 billion, positioning us as one of the largest health-focused private foundations’ nationally. The Board of Directors established that the Foundation would continue to operate in perpetuity while strengthening Colorado’s health landscape.
Between 2011 and 2016, the Foundation underwent strategic shifts in how we fund and make grants in Colorado. We also transitioned from public charity to private foundation status.
Included in this timeframe, prior to official private foundation designation, we funded the creation of Healthier Colorado, an independent 501(c)(4) political organization that could become a voice of the people of Colorado in policy debates that influence health. This innovative approach to grassroots capacity building has proven to be a valuable lesson for other philanthropic and advocacy organizations nationally.
In 2014, the Foundation’s long-time leader Anne Warhover stepped down after a decade. Current President and CEO Karen McNeil-Miller began her tenure as the Foundation’s new leader in September 2015.
Where We’re Going: A Foundation with Equity at the Heart of Our Work (2017 - 18)
In 2016, the Foundation began another important transition in our work and relocated to its new home in Denver’s uptown neighborhood. The Board of Directors guided the Foundation to take on a new strategic direction. Under Karen’s leadership, we adopted a wider view of health, began engaging locally in communities across the state and adopted a core focus on achieving health equity in Colorado. Our program staff also began implementing a new IMPACT Practice Model that guides how we work in communities.
In 2017, the Foundation refreshed our organizational core values and vision statement, which is: That across Colorado each of us can say: “We have all we need to live healthy lives.” Additionally, we adopted a rally cry and made clear that our organizational belief is that health is a basic human right.
In February 2018, the board approved a strategic framework for our work that features four Focus Areas: Maintain Healthy Bodies, Nurture Healthy Minds, Strengthen Community Health and Champion Health Equity.
To date, the Foundation make grants through our funding opportunities, responsive grants program and rapid response funding, which is designed to offer flexibility to applicants seeking funding to support the work of their organization.