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Health Equity Advocacy Strategy Receives Funding Extension

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Media contact: Julian Kesner, The Colorado Trust, 303-539-3147

DENVER, COLO.—The Colorado Trust is proud to announce that it will continue support of the Health Equity Advocacy Strategy (HEAS), a multi-year program with the goal to build a strong, diverse field of health equity advocates in the state. The extension is a three-year, $12 million funding commitment that will run through 2019. The strategy was first created and funded in 2013.

The Trust believes that building a strong field of advocates—rather than strong but individual advocacy organizations, operating in isolation—leads to greater sustainability and to advocates’ ability to successfully respond to a changing political climate. The cohort of 18 grantee organizations collaborate on decisions related to which policy topics to address, capacities to build and strengthen within the partnership, communications activities to undertake, how to assure engagement of affected populations in their advocacy efforts and how strategy funds should be used.

The Colorado Trust’s Board of Trustees and staff understand advocacy efforts of all kinds require a long-term commitment, especially when addressing health inequities rooted in differences such as race, ethnicity, geography and income. Key initial learnings among the HEAS grantees have included:

  • There is a general lack of awareness and understanding of health equity among the general public and policymakers.
  • Building a field requires deep capacity, coordination and collaboration among health equity advocacy organizations, particularly when it comes to policy change.

It is essential to recognize historic and present-day inequities in resource allocation; in systems that are meant to support the health and well-being of people; in how policies are created and implemented; in access to opportunities and health care; and much more. These 18 organizations, in partnership with the people most affected by inequities, will come together to create targeted strategies to address health equity.

The engagement and involvement of community organizing and direct-service organizations allows the HEAS cohort to have deep conversations about the intersections of different social determinants of health, how policy has to be carefully considered and understood through a social determinants of health lens, and helps the cohort understand that communities of color are disproportionately affected by health inequities. These conversations have led the cohort to recognize and agree that conversations about racial inequities are challenging, but vital. The cohort has also decided to provide clear attention and focus to racial equity within the health equity and field-building frameworks.

The vision set forth by the HEAS cohort for the next three years of this work is: Diverse Colorado leaders, united by common values and empowered communities, dismantle structural and racial inequities and build equitable systems so that all Coloradans can achieve their highest possible level of health.

Three new HEAS publications are now available. The first evaluation report from the strategy looks at how HEAS grantees are engaging affected populations in their collective health equity efforts. Also online are two HEAS fact sheets, one explaining the strategy in greater detail and the other explaining why a field-building approach was utilized.

Additionally, The Trust has also published recent stories on several HEAS grantees and their work, including the Colorado Center on Law & Policy, the Asian Pacific Development Center and Padres & Jóvenes Unidos. Additional background on the overall HEAS strategy is available in our 2015 Annual Report story on the effort.

For more information on HEAS, email Noelle Melchizedek, advocacy and policy partner at The Colorado Trust, or call (303) 837-1200.

Learn about the health equity issues affecting Coloradans at Collective Colorado, a publication of The Colorado Trust.