By Ned Calonge, MD, MPH
Thirty years ago, The Colorado Trust came into existence as a result of the sale of the PSL Healthcare Corporation. From day one, The Trust’s focus has been to advance the health and well-being of the people of Colorado, and as we enter 2015, it rings true to this day.
It has been an extraordinary three decades of service, and it’s impossible to fully encapsulate it in a few sentences. Yes, numbers matter to a degree: since our inception, we’ve granted more than $470 million to 868 different Colorado organizations. Yet the thousands of Coloradans whose lives and health we have been able to help improve are an even bigger part of the story—a story that is still being written 30 years later. (Along those lines, I encourage you to peruse the extensive grantee stories section of our website.)
2015 marks a pivotal point in our history. We are embarking on what we believe is a remarkable and innovative grantmaking strategy. Yesterday, we announced the hiring of five new staff members—Community Partners who live in different areas of the state and will work locally at the resident and community level.
Our Community Partnerships effort is designed as a different way of doing grantmaking compared with how The Trust has largely funded in the past, where we’ve asked groups to apply for grants to implement projects and meet goals designed by our own staff. Instead, we wish to support communities in identifying and addressing unique health equity issues of importance to the residents.
To undertake this work, we need to first understand how communities perceive health equity, and learn about ways it is already being addressed. We need to get to know residents and community leaders, and hear from them about opportunities and barriers to advancing health equity at the local level. We can and will engage all voices in these discussions.
In partnership with communities, The Trust plans to eventually fund a range of innovative, local solutions that advance health equity. Most important of all: any such ideas to improve health equity in a community will be determined by residents themselves. Our goal is to simply partner with and support communities along this journey.
We have learned a lot over the last 30 years, and we have even more to learn in the weeks, months and years ahead. I can think of no better way to do so than by working with residents and communities where they live, work and play. Improving the health and well-being of all Coloradans depends on it.