Striving for health equity during Black History Month and beyond

Despite decades of work, Black people continue to experience health inequity

Striving for health equity during Black History Month and beyond
During Black History Month, we pay tribute to generations of Black people who dedicated their lives to achieve equality in the United States. Despite decades of effort, there is still work to do. Research shows that Black people experience higher rates of illness and death across the U.S., including receiving more diagnoses of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma and heart disease compared to white people. Additionally, Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.

In an ongoing effort to drive greater health equity, Cambia Health Foundation has invested more than $12 million over the years into partner organizations working to eliminate health disparities. Because the issues contributing to health inequities are vast and complex, the many grants awarded over the years have addressed a variety of solutions, such as:
  • Training and diversifying the health care workforce so it more accurately reflects and represents those being served.
  • Addressing lack of community-based behavioral health services for people of color
  • Expanding capacity for primary and preventive care in a racism-free zone
  • Advocating for the disproportionate number of minorities at risk of evictions from their homes
  • School-based intervention addressing racial disparities
Most recently, the Foundation announced $400,000 in grants to improve pregnancy health outcomes for parents and children in local, underserved communities.

Community partners who are advancing health equity

Our incredible community partners have accomplished significant outcomes in their areas of focus and expertise. Below is a selection of community partners who have made a notable impact:
  • Byrd Barr Place: The vision of Byrd Barr Place is that all people deserve access to services that support their health and well-being – in short, equity for all. With a recent grant provided the Foundation, Byrd Barr Place is currently measuring their impact based on access to culturally specific whole-person health care for pregnant women and caregivers of young children. Ultimately, they’re working to disrupt intergenerational cycles of health inequity.
  • Washington Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics (WCAAP): Racism affects the health of children and the quality of health care they receive. It is crucial that pediatric health care providers understand implicit and explicit racism bias, actively dismantle structural racism, and create culturally competent medical practices to better care for all children and families. With Cambia Health Foundation support, WCAAP is launching the Gather Equity Learning Collaborative that will train 32 pediatric health care providers on how to advance equity and diversity in pediatric care.
  • YWCA Utah: YWCA Utah is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. The Foundation has supported its 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge, which was developed to eliminate racism within the Utah community. This program is led by women of color from Utah who have been deeply engaged in anti-racism and racial justice work in the community for years.
“Inequities are not a result of personal failures, they are a result of a system that needs to be much more focused on personalized care informed by population health data,” says Peggy Maguire, president of Cambia Health Foundation. “It takes everyone working together to create long-term, lasting change and better health outcomes.”

Deepening our racial equity knowledge and best practices

While the Foundation invests in community partners who are creating change in our communities, we also look inward. Our staff is encouraged to examine their own biases and learn how to increase racial equity within philanthropy. It’s well-documented that unconscious racial bias seeps into all industries. In philanthropy, this has resulted in nonprofit organizations led by people of color receiving less funding than those led by their white counterparts.

As part of the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to improving health equity, Cambia Health Foundation Senior Program Officer Steve Lesky is participating in the Race Equity Culture Fellowship program, hosted by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. Steve is one of 17 program officers in the country selected to participate in this inaugural cohort. His learnings will support the Foundation’s emphasis on equity moving forward.

As a team, the Foundation continues to learn, grow and work together to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and center equity in our processes. All Foundation staff members have completed a three-day extensive DEI training through the Center for Equity and Inclusion to raise consciousness and build the common language, framework and tools needed for individuals to advance equity.

We must continue working together to achieve health equity. You can read more about how health equity is centered in our 10-year vision and strategy.