By Chris Armijo, The Colorado Trust
As The Trust embarks on our vision of achieving health equity for all Coloradans, research and reality tells us that supporting policy change efforts through advocacy is an essential strategy to address inequities and social challenges. But the “how” of advocacy through a health equity lens is a more complex endeavor, given that there is no single solution or idea that will create the health equity landscape to which we aspire.
We know that certain populations do not have fair nor equal opportunities to lead healthy lives, based on race, ethnicity, income, geography and many other factors. We know that health is more than health care, and is deeply affected by social, systemic and institutional dynamics that extend beyond coverage and access. And we know that effective, efficient and inclusive advocacy and public engagement efforts can lead to positive changes in those dynamics, and in turn help support individuals and families who are most vulnerable.
We also know that Colorado is home to a diverse and dynamic array of organizations that engage in the advocacy spectrum at different points – identifying, informing and advancing policy solutions through many approaches and strategies. Colorado is also home to equally diverse and dynamic communities, ready to engage, activate and mobilize toward solutions.
As a result of these challenges and opportunities, The Trust and its Board of Trustees created the Health Equity Advocacy (HEA) strategy. The aim is to partner with a broad array of groups to develop an overarching strategy for health equity advocacy. It includes supporting current advocacy efforts, as well as beginning to:
- Build a field of health equity advocates
- Prioritize health equity in advocacy and policy efforts
- Expand and strengthen knowledge and skills in organizations and the field
- Develop strategies to engage communities most affected by health inequities.
Today, we announced Phase I grants totaling $1.36 million to 34 organizations statewide to focus on health equity advocacy. The HEA grantees will play an active role in shaping the field’s direction, efforts and strategy with The Trust over the next six months. While admittedly an ambitious undertaking, we believe that collaborating with Trust grantees and focusing on building a field of health equity advocates can and will be successful. As we engage grantee partners and communities, we will share what we are learning and how the strategy is evolving.
There is an old African proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.” Given that this type of approach and focus cannot be done alone or in isolation, we will continuously strengthen and expand our network of partners in this effort. We can go farther together in striving for health equity for all Coloradans.