Looking ahead: The next five years
We learned a lot from the midpoint assessment process and report. And in 2020, we know that already-vulnerable populations are becoming more so, so we are integrating that knowledge into the report takeaways. But what comes next for Advancing Wellness? The assessment surfaced two potential refinements to our strategy over the next five years.
Opportunity: Leverage opportunities for cross-grantee engagement
In this process, we saw clearly that our grantees are increasingly doing overlapping and complementary work. We see that there are opportunities to bring organizations together and help them make connections, especially within a tumultuous year like 2020, when many organizations are focused on mutual aid.
We also learned that there are important, mutual feedback loops between organizations delivering direct services and those doing policy advocacy work. Their efforts mutually reinforce one another. Services directly fulfill short-term needs created by gaps in government support, while policy improvements tackle those gaps in services in a more sustained way. Underlying this approach is a theory that many of our grantees agree with: Reducing the immediate suffering caused by systemic injustice is just as important as addressing the conditions that produce it.
Therefore, to reinforce opportunities for cross-grantee engagement, we’ve decided to organize our work at the “portfolio” level, rather than by program issue area.
Our refined portfolios are: Community Well-being, Equity and Access, Economic Security and Dignity, and Leading for Power and Change.
Opportunity: Continue working across issues while highlighting inequities
We spoke with influential peer funders and other experts and asked them to tell us what they think are the most pressing issues affecting the health and wellness of Californians in the next five years. The following issues come up time and again:
- Rising economic inequality in California
- Effects of the climate crisis on community wellness
- The importance of—and threats to—immigrant communities
We’re now exploring ways to better understand, integrate and articulate these three issues more explicitly and strategically into the next five years of Advancing Wellness. For example, even though we clear among ourselves that economic inequality and immigration an important part of our work, the assessment made it clear that some external stakeholders do not perceive these issues to be integrated into our work, which limits our opportunities for collaboration and greater impact.
These midpoint assessment findings have both sustained us and challenged us to continue learning and continue improving. We are encouraged to know that our flexible, responsive model has benefited hundreds of vital, community-oriented nonprofits. We’re also excited to continue prioritizing areas that show promise of even greater impact—centering equity, supporting grantees to self-organize and collaborate and selecting grantees who embody and encourage community-driven change, racial justice and power-building.