In 2017, MeHAF completed a comprehensive organizational analysis and developed new approaches to address issues of health equity. The foundation formed an equity subcommittee comprised of members of the Board of Trustees and Community Advisory Committee. The subcommittee conducted site visits with nonprofit organizations working in the field, planned and participated in a full-day training on equity issues with the full Board, staff, and CAC, and worked with consultants to conduct an internal assessment, which included an examination of our own grantmaking and other processes as well as interviews with more than 30 internal and external stakeholders. The learning from this combination of activities shaped a set of recommendations for more equitable practices across all the foundation’s activities. In order to implement that set of recommendations, MeHAF will be taking the following approaches:
- MeHAF launched a new grants program focused on building the capacity of community-led organizations working on issues of health equity for their communities.
- MeHAF will increase the availability of flexible, responsive grant dollars that can be accessed to respond to community-defined needs and to advance equity, potentially through expansion of our Discretionary Grants program and/or other new funding strategies.
- MeHAF will identify ways to better support grantees in making equity accommodations like translation, interpretation, and addressing other accessibility barriers.
- MeHAF will partner more with other foundations in Maine to align work that advances equity
- MeHAF will work to design, simpler, more accessible applications for funding that are formed with greater input from communities and that ask about applicants’ efforts to advance equity
- MeHAF will work to ensure that funding decisions include greater community voice and that are based on the quality of organizations and projects rather than grant writing skills.
- MeHAF will work with grantees to develop simpler, more flexible, more accessible processes for reporting and evaluation of grants
Leadership Voice and Visibility
- MeHAF will work to build and strengthen reciprocity and relationships with organizations that serve our priority populations through greater staff participation in communities and more inclusion of community leaders in our decision-making.
- MeHAF will expand research and communications about health disparities and related policy issues –with input from members of the community
Internal Operations and Culture
- MeHAF will invite nominations for our Board and Community Advisory Committee (CAC) from grantees, stressing both personal experience and leadership
- MeHAF will initiate strategies to increase program staff presence in communities
- MeHAF will revise nomination and hiring criteria for organizational leadership and staff to place greater emphasis on a variety of lived experiences