Communities of Care

This initiative supports collaborative approaches to well-being in the Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area. The grants strengthen efforts to transform the environments where people live, learn, work, play and pray, bringing a population health approach to support community resilience, mental health and well-being with a focus on children and youth of color and their families.  A total of $11.5 million in grant funds will be awarded to eleven organizations over the five-year grant term. Ten organizations were awarded $800,000 each to build on an existing community collaborative. The collaboratives consist of key stakeholders from across sectors who are working together to plan and implement activities that address a wide range of community needs. An eleventh organization, Prevention Institute, received $3.5 million in grant funding to provide coordination for the initiative.

Background

Nationwide, there is growing momentum to address health disparities and inequities, and a number of philanthropic efforts to improve health outcomes in communities. The Communities of Care initiative is our most recent strategy to join these efforts by partnering with communities as they work with diverse and historically excluded groups, facilitate courageous conversations, and implement improvements to support resiliency, mental health and well-being.

This initiative has a specific focus on children and youth of color and their families. As detailed in in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Bookthis population experiences more mental health challenges as a result of greater exposure to community-level factors that threaten positive mental health. This increased exposure is a result of social, environmental and economic conditions that stem from structural differences in power and resources. The root causes of these differences include racism, sexism, classism, and other institutional and historical ways that resources, opportunity and power are distributed across groups.

Well-being is defined by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as “the extent to which people experience happiness and satisfaction, and can apply their abilities and talents in life. Key aspects of community well-being include community health; economic resilience; educational capacity; household stability; and environmental adaptation.” They go on to explain, “It’s also critical to consider aspects of well-being across diverse populations, including those that are often marginalized.”

The foundation believes the potential for change is greater when we focus our efforts on marginalized populations, and when we do so with a lens of cultural sensitivity. We also understand that the places where people live, learn, work, play and pray can have a significant impact on improving mental health. Grantmakers in Health says, “neighborhoods marked by poverty and a history of disinvestment are cut off from opportunities and resources that promote wellness. These communities face unequal health outcomes and widening disparities, especially among low-income residents, people of color, and other vulnerable populations. Community well-being is profoundly shaped by social, economic, and environmental factors such as housing, employment, and education. From sidewalks to toxic stress, evidence shows where people live has a greater impact than medical care, behavior, or genetics.”

Ultimately, we aim to support communities in their efforts to identify and implement social determinant interventions that promote resiliency, mental health, and well- being for children and youth of color and their families in the Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Questions: Contact Vicky Coffee, Program Manager, or Stephany Bryan, Program Officer and Consumer & Family Liaison

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