New Vision to Amplify People Power for Racial Justice and Health Equity

Greetings from the Convergence Partnership! This holiday season was unlike any other to close out a year unlike any other. As we move into the new year, we wish you strength, health, and moments of peace and happiness to sustain you.

After 14 years of work as a pioneering national funder collaborative focused on health equity, we are excited to announce the reset of the Convergence Partnership grounded in a new vision and strategic direction. This new path forward is a co-creation between the Convergence Partnership’s long-standing Steering Committee members, regional funders, and its grassroots and narrative change partners.

Today, the Convergence Partnership is guided by a new Steering Committee of 11 national and regional funders working together to advance joint actions and investments at the local, state, and national level: The California Endowment, Chicago Community Trust, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Elevated Chicago, Foundation for Louisiana, Health Forward Foundation, Kansas Health Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Nemours, Sierra Health Foundation/San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. We are also delighted to welcome the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation as the newest national funder to join the Convergence Partnership family. The Partnership will continue to be supported by PolicyLink as program director and fund manager, along with Prevention Institute as strategic advisor.

The losses and hardships of 2020 and efforts of the insurrectionist mob on January 6 reaffirmed that the only way forward is to take action to eliminate structural racism and white supremacy and transform established systems of power that perpetuate racial inequities. 2020 also showed us the tremendous power of Black and other organizers of color in places like Georgia and Arizona who continue to pave the way toward building a true democracy and an equitable society.

The health of our families, children, communities, and nation, hinges on ensuring that everyone – especially those most impacted by structural racism – can participate in our democratic systems and feel safe and empowered to do so. We come into this new year with a renewed sense of purpose and ready to do the work needed to realize our new North Star vision of racial justice and health equity.

“At the Kellogg Foundation we have a long-standing commitment to racial equity,” says Caroline Brunton, program officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “And we know this work requires partnership — we must tackle racism and its resulting complex challenges together. As one of the founding members of Convergence Partnership, we have continuously asked ourselves ‘where and how can we add value?’ We know that answering this requires the willingness to pivot and evolve how we approach the work and intentionally lifting the stories and experiences of those most impacted by health injustices.”

We will work toward this new vision by:

    •    Amplifying Community Power: Investing in the power and agency of people of color and low-income people to transform racist policies and systems. We will do this by making investments that expand the equitable grassroots, power-building infrastructure for local, state, and national policy and systems change.

    •    Transforming Narratives: Elevating narratives and stories that shift public attitudes toward inclusion, belonging, and the dignity of all people. We will do this by using our positioning and platforms to advance a national narrative driven by local experiences and successes of people of color and low-income people that shifts the paradigm toward racial justice and health equity.

    •    Building Funder Capacity: Mobilizing and influencing funders, including ourselves, to embrace transformative practices and relationships that dismantle systemic racism and power imbalances in philanthropy. We have seven new partners, and all are committed to this fundamental shift and to bring more of our sector into equitable practices.

Brenda Calvin and McClain Bryant Macklin of Health Forward Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri shared, “Health Forward Foundation is proud to collaborate with other institutions across the country engaged in the Convergence Partnership to address systemic racial and health inequities. This season in our country’s history highlights the need for proactive solutions to the social and political influencers of health, of which race is one, that exists on the local, regional, and national level. This alliance gives Health Forward an extraordinary opportunity to take accelerated and coordinated action when necessary and advocate for sustained change.”

Amanda Navarro, Chief Impact Officer at PolicyLink shares, “For too long racial justice and equity movements have been under-resourced and dismissed. As Program Director of the Partnership for the last 13 years, we believe philanthropy can, and must, step up in meeting the demands of movement leaders to address racial and health inequities and see investing in people power as the path toward winning on equity. Convergence Partnership recognizes this as an enormous opportunity and responsibility, and we are excited to work collectively to advance racial justice and health equity.”

We completed our new strategic direction amid the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year and saw the clear opportunity to contribute to efforts working toward an equitable recovery process while also laying the critical groundwork for our longer-term vision. Beginning in May 2020, Convergence provided support to 19 grassroots leaders and organizations in seven places across the country working toward an equitable community recovery from Covid-19. These rapid response grants were intended to fill a notable resource gap for grassroots organizations – funding critical organizing work and planning to ensure groups have the capacity to adapt and scale their local and state policy campaigns to the changing environment. For more information on the grantees, go here.

We start 2021 leaning into the critical work toward racial justice and health equity, examining our own role and practices, collaborating with our partners to rise and meet the moment, and catalyzing and amplifying efforts that lift up voices of those most impacted by structural racism. We will continue to draw inspiration from the brilliant work already taking place in states and communities across the country. We believe that investing in people power and leadership is imperative to restoring our democracy and ensuring everyone is healthy and can thrive.

We look forward to having you join us on this journey.

For more information on the Partnership visit our website.