Over the past several years, the Greater Rochester Health Foundation has been actively working to better understand our privilege, the effects of white dominant culture on our organization, and the consequences of systemic racism on our region’s health outcomes. When the BAG launched the “Racism as a Public Health Crisis” declaration, it codified—in a series of profound statements—all the work we’ve been doing internally and provided an external vehicle to express our values. BAG leadership shared the declaration with us on May 19, and we formally signed on May 28. There was unanimous organizational support as the declaration aligned with our recently updated mission, and we encouraged board/ staff to sign as individuals to further extend our personal commitment to anti-racism.

The Health Foundation has been on a race-equity journey since 2016—providing support to St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center to help launch their Structural Racism Initiative. We’ve supported staff who are pursuing a Diversity Professional Certification and have provided staff education on anti-racism, implicit bias, microaggressions, etc. through staff workshops and outside consultants. We have spent the past 1.5 years focused on diversifying our team to ensure a strong mix of experience (lived and professional) as well as representation from the many communities we serve. Throughout this process, we have been exploring and changing policies and practices to be a more equitable organization.

In addition to our internal efforts, the Health Foundation is actively working to integrate components of the BAG declaration externally. This work includes: integrating community voice in our grantmaking practices to ensure that those intended to benefit have a voice in developing solutions and using our funds to support advocacy efforts in the region.

The Health Foundation is committed to centering all our efforts on equity and working with others to support solutions that disrupt conditions that have resulted in disparities. We will work to implement strategies that support BIPOC led organizations, intentionally shift focus to groups that experience the greatest inequities in our region, and seeking to support community led and developed solutions that address racial health inequities across our region. In furthering anti-racist efforts within our own organization and our partners’, we strengthen our region as a whole.