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 Black Agenda Group (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, 2020 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.