Key Points

Between 2016 and 2019, Richmond Memorial Health Foundation jumpstarted its transformation from a health legacy foundation committed to increasing access to health care to one promoting regional health equity through a racial and ethnic lens. A central component of this new focus was the trustees’ decision to invite community members to inform and advance the health equity strategy through two distinct community fellowship programs — the Equity + Health Fellowships. These programs ultimately provided the foundation with a new language, benchmarks, and structure for welcoming broader community engagement.

This article highlights the outcomes of both programs, how the experience with the Fellowships enhanced the foundation’s impact and learning, and how the foundation identified areas that require strengthening as its transformation continues. The article also shares four lessons for any philanthropic organization seeking to work in direct partnership with community members.

With these insights, foundations can use their social and financial capital to address power and health inequities directly and become stronger, trusted allies of community partners.

Open Access