Centering Equity and Justice in Our Work

The Colorado Health Foundation has been committed, since 2015, to becoming a diverse, inclusive and equity-centered organization. The Foundation’s staff work every day with the intent of creating health equity for all Coloradans, especially those for whom health is furthest from reach due to avoidable, unfair or systemically caused differences. That means we prioritize communities of color in all that we do, and intend to disrupt racist systems and structures by pursuing racial justice as a key pathway to achieve health equity. 

This commitment to centering equity and justice extends to all aspects of how we engage in the work, both internally and out in communities across Colorado. From evaluation and learning, to how we fund, communicate and hire, our staff are intentionally learning from and institutionalizing the Foundation’s beliefs and approaches to our work that further advance equity. 

Our Beliefs

  • Health is a basic human right. It is the right of every person and community to have what they need to be healthy. 
  • People do not live single-issue lives. Race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, wealth opportunity, country of origin and religion are often interconnected. Discrimination and racism due to these intersectionalities keeps health out of reach. 
  • We are part of the problem. The Foundation exists in a philanthropic field born of fortunes made by racist policies that have exploited and oppressed non-whites. We must grapple with our inherent power in a system that has historically turned a blind eye to, and even perpetuated, racial injustice.
  • We need to be a disruptor at times – and part of the solution. The most impactful role we can play is to call attention to and disrupt systems that keep health out of reach for communities of color – and use our learning as a model for the field.

Our Approach to the Work

Cornerstones of our work
  • We abide by three cornerstones, which are “must-haves” in all we do and call out whom we serve, our intent and a commitment to being community-informed. While we have always served Coloradans with less power, privilege and income, we now prioritize communities of color. We expect our partners to prioritize these cornerstones in their work, to ensure we never stray from our goals. Coupled with strategies to strengthen bodies, minds and communities, these cornerstones help us fight unfair, avoidable differences in health.
  • We cultivate an organizational culture and operational approach that prioritizes equity, justice and inclusion practices. We are implementing and evolving antiracist practices that prioritize and advance equity and justice across all that we do. Four key attributes guide and drive our internal culture: mission-obsession, equity-propelled, nimble and fearless. Performance expectations for all staff include embodying those cultural attributes in their work as inclusive colleagues, including actively participating in racial affinity groups where personal equity and justice journeys are nurtured.
  • We prioritize key “levers of disruption” in our work to maximize impact. While funding continues to be one of our primary and most visible tools, we know money, alone, can’t bring health in reach for Coloradans of color. In 2021, we developed an internal racial justice framework that guides how we center equity and racial justice practices and approaches more robustly within our current strategic priorities. As a result, we are deepening our use of disruptive levers, including consideration of our own power, our approach to community engagement, how we develop and nurture relationships, our role in public discourse, and how to best leverage public policy for lasting impact. 
  • We hold ourselves accountable. As an organization focused on pursuing racial justice to achieve health equity, the Foundation is holding itself publicly accountable by collecting and publicly sharing data that demonstrates our progress in how we’re centering race and ethnicity in all we do. The accountabilities show how – over time – our investments, advisors, partners, grantees and staff encapsulate and represent diverse experiences and perspectives. This means that we collect demographic data on the Foundation’s staff and Board of Directors, and request key demographic data from grant applicants to help us understand how our partners are approaching the work of advancing equity. 
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