Regional Convergence Partnerships

From its inception, the Convergence Partnership sought to build a new multi-issue, cross-disciplinary, and equity-focused field — a field of fields — to catalyze and accelerate policy and environmental changes connected to a broad movement for change. Recognizing that funder collaborative efforts are an important building block in the field and movement building, the Partnership began in 2007 to explore how best to leverage and connect local, regional, and state efforts to create healthy people and healthy places for all.

Convergence Partnership launched the Regional Convergence initiative in 2008 to support the establishment and growth of regional funder partnerships across the country. Over the past six years, the Convergence Partnership has dedicated its efforts to supporting the formation and growth of regional convergence partnerships that are applying the national model to advance equitable change across the country. As a result, these Regional Convergence Partnerships have successfully contributed towards the development of a “field of fields” that is expanding the approach and success of multi-disciplinary, equity-focused policy change. Building this field has had direct impacts on local and regional philanthropies themselves, as well as on their partnerships and on the communities they are serving.

While their individual structures and approaches vary all of the partnerships have been about changing the way philanthropy does business together in order to have a very different impact on the world. Alongside the Convergence Partnership, regional convergences are contributing to a cohesive, amplified convergence agenda that advances equity through policy and practice change across the country.

California Convergence

Background

 

Developed in 2007 and funded in January 2008, the California Convergence (CA Convergence) initially emerged as a community-driven, statewide collaborative made up of communities representing seven different initiatives developed by six major health funders. In late 2010, CA Convergence experienced a transformational shift in its governance from funders to community leaders. The resulting Steering Committee, made up of local leaders from across California, now governs and guides CA Convergence. CA Convergence's vision is that California residents have the power and the partnerships to collectively build equitable, safe, and healthy communities where every person participates and prospers. Their efforts are grounded in the larger goal of promoting social justice, health in all policies, and equity. Advancing health equity is at the core of CA Convergence's vision.

 

Collaboration and Infrastructure

 

CA Convergence has three organizational levels: (1) seven regional organizing groups; (2) a Steering Committee composed of four representatives from each of the regional organizing groups; and (3) Statewide Coordinating and Technical Assistance Partners. CA Convergence community leaders and partners are supported by a variety of funders. The California Endowment (TCE) and Kaiser Permanente (KP) fund the CA Convergence Coordinating Office to manage CA Convergence overall efforts. KP funds the California Pan Ethnic Health Network to guide CA Convergence policy advocacy activities. In February 2013, CA Convergence received a Convergence Partnership grant to recruit and engage additional funding partners in two of the regional organizing groups.

 

Strategies and Activities

 

This network is guided by a strategic plan providing a five-year vision, and a two-year action plan with specific goals and strategic directions to implement community-driven, collaborative environmental change approaches.

  • At the local level, CA Convergence supports community leaders by sharing resources, offering training and connecting them with colleagues across the state.
  • At the regional level, CA Convergence provides a space for individuals and organizations to address common challenges, learn from each other, and build alliances that have lasting impact.
  • At the state level, CA Convergence comes together to advocate for policies that are making a real difference in people's lives. CA Convergence has already won important victories on transportation planning, Safe Routes to Schools, and access to healthy foods.

 

Contact
Lisa Hershey, Program Director, California Convergence Coordinating Office, Public Health Institute lhershey@phi.org

    Livewell Colorado

    Background

     

    LiveWell Colorado is a nonprofit organization that targets six goal areas centered on advancing policy strategies with stakeholders; reducing health disparities; and building stakeholder leadership, synergy, and capacity to maximize investments for Colorado communities. LiveWell also engages in strategic communications and evaluation. It envisions a state in which all Coloradans enjoy a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and active living and that the state's tradition of health and wellness is fully embraced by its residents.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    Established as a nonprofit in 2009, LiveWell Colorado (LWC) demonstrates a model of collaborative leadership in coordinating and leveraging several longstanding community-based obesity prevention projects in the state, including the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Physical Activity and Nutrition Program (COPAN), Kaiser Permanente's Thriving Communities Program, and the Colorado Health Foundation's community-based obesity prevention initiatives. One of the primary underlying goals of convergence in Colorado was to build synergy and reduce duplication of efforts among existing organizations and projects. Kaiser Permanente and the Colorado Health Foundation jointly fund LWC, with additional support from the Kresge Foundation. The work of LWC is guided by an overall strategic plan, which was vetted by hundreds of stakeholders throughout Colorado and LWC's board of directors. The two founding funders serve on the nonprofit's board, playing an active role in guiding the course of LWC's work. The remaining board members represent a variety of sectors including local government, education, health care, public health, real estate development, economic development, business, restaurant/urban agriculture, and others.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    LWC granted more than $2.5 million to 22 communities in 2012, 10 of which are neighborhoods or municipalities within the Denver Metro Area. Grantees are encouraged to target systemic policy and environmental change and implement strategies through multi- sector coalitions. Communities may receive funding for a total of up to nine years, determined on an annual basis, with implementation phase grants ranging from $40,000 to $200,000 per year. Community coordinators, who lead the coalitions, are convened by LWC quarterly for training, technical assistance, networking, and other educational opportunities. The national Convergence Partnership has been supporting LWC to begin working on a Denver Convergence to foster collaboration and influence policy change at the local level in Colorado. There is already a great deal of healthy eating active living work being done in Denver, and there are several non-health foundations doing complementary work that could be leveraged toward LWC's goals. LWC is using this funding to convene these groups to identify strategies to maximize the impact of the various efforts.

     

    LWC has released three comprehensive statewide blueprints focusing on food policy, worksite wellness, and the built environment. Each one provides a comprehensive scan of current policy efforts and identifies opportunities for future policy work at the organizational, community, state, and federal levels. LWC made progress in implementing recommendations from the first two blueprints. In 2010, legislation was passed to create a statewide Food Systems Advisory Council, which will work to implement priorities identified in the food policy blueprint. LWC also coordinates grassroots advocacy activities to ensure that communities are empowered to make legislative changes at the local level, and to support statewide and federal public policy efforts as well.

     

    Contact
    Maren Stewart, President and CEO, LiveWell Colorado
    marenstewart@livewellcolorado.org

    Florida Partnership For Healthy People, Healthy Places

    Background

     

    Formed in 2011, the Florida Partnership for Healthy People, Healthy Places (Florida Partnership) seeks to engage people across sectors so they can connect and complement each other's work; to transform places so they foster health, prosperity; and well-being; to ensure equity by focusing on vulnerable populations and communities; and to change policiesso systems and structures intentionally support health and wellness. The Florida Partnership has identified advancing equity, supporting multi‐sector partnerships, engaging local partners, and prioritizing community engagement as their core values.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    The Florida Partnership is currently composed of six founding members: Health Foundation of South Florida, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida, Winter Park Health Foundation, Quantum, Allegany Franciscan Ministries, and Jessie Ball duPont Fund. They are in the process of identifying new funding partners with the goal of bringing in funders from a variety of sectors, not just health.

     

    Supported by a grant from the Convergence Partnership received in September 2011, the Florida Partnership has created a pool of matching funds to implement joint activities, has signed a formalized MOU, and has developed a five-year strategic plan for collective action.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    The Florida Partnership has selected issues related to food as their first priority; additional issues related to physical activity, obesity, and the impact of place of residence on health will be included as opportunities arise. Their five-year strategic plan includes activities, initiatives, and strategies focused on systems change and will include the following.

    • Supporting statewide initiativesto improve the health and well‐being of Floridiansthat include diverse public and private sector partners.
    • Developing innovative partnerships to provide funding to build or expand small produce/essential grocery stores to include fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy food options.
    • Working with schools, child care centers and after school programs to develop wellness policies that include increasing physical activity, expanding access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy food choices in the cafeteria, and growing and tasting healthy foods.
    • Working with farmers to locally source fresh fruits and vegetables to the local schools, child care, and after school programs.

     

    Contacts
    Steve Marcus, Health Foundation of South Florida
    smarcus@hfsf.org

     

    Janisse Schoepp, Health Foundation of South Florida
    jschoepp@hfsf.org

    Shaping Kentucky's Future Collaborative

    Background

     

    Founded in 2010, Shaping Kentucky's Future Collaborative (SKFC) took its name from a 2009 brief issued by state policymakers to provide a blueprint for effective policies to lower obesity rates in Kentucky. Through an initial strategic planning process, SKFC members agreed to prioritize three of the eight policies stemming from the brief that focus on nutrition and healthy physical activity in school settings, nutrition and healthy physical activity in early childhood settings, and complete streets with safe space for active transportation. The primary goal of SKFC is to use the strengths of Kentucky philanthropy—as grantmakers, conveners, and civic leaders—to reduce obesity by promoting cross-sector exploration and implementation of policies that lead to improved nutrition, physical activity, and supportive built environments. SKFC is committed to promoting policies that improve access to nutritious food and safe environments that support active, healthy lifestyles.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    SKFC is a partnership consisting of 14 funding and non-funding foundations. The steering committee meets monthly and is composed of three elected members from Foundation for a Health Kentucky, Blue Grass Community Foundation, and Clark Regional Foundation for the Promotion of Health. After receiving a grant from the Convergence Partnership in 2010, SKFC engaged two part-time consultants with expertise in obesity and policy work to provide focused leadership and targeted outreach to Kentucky foundations, as well as guide the development of a strategic plan and shared investment strategy. Currently the collaborative includes a half dozen core foundations that share a commitment to engaging multi-sector partners and share a focus on equity and sustainable environmental change.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    In 2010 the collaborative awarded grants to three organizations; in each case the awards leveraged additional funding matched by a partnering foundation. In 2012, SKFC was awarded funding to re-grant to a geographically diverse group of communities throughout the region where funding partners have shown commitment to policy and environmental change. SKFC recognizes that making health equity an integral part of the planning and implementation process is essential to sustainable change. Their community grants mirror policy, equity, and multi-field partnerships that support rural and urban efforts to combat poverty and inequity.

     

    The production and dissemination of the report, Shaping Kentucky's Future, A Community Guide to Reducing Obesity: Local Success Stories, funded in part by the SKFC, created an opportunity for other communities to begin conversations about program and policy changes. This compilation of success stories in schools and communities highlights examples of sustainable change through policy, environmental, and/or systems change and can be replicated by other communities.

     

    As the collaborative continues to encourage foundation leadership to become more engaged in policy-related work, current SKFC funders continue to build relationships with partners across multiple fields—the Transportation Commission, Agricultural Commission, Partnership for a Fit Kentucky, Kentucky League of Cities, Office of Health Equity, Kentucky Council of Churches—to foster and sustain collaborative investments in policy change.

     

    Contact
    Lisa Adkins, President & CEO, Blue Grass Community Foundation
    ladkins@bgcf.org

    Let's Go! Maine

    Background

     

    Let's Go! Maine originated as a 12-community demonstration project utilizing a multi-sector, multi-level approach to improve healthy eating and active living for children ages 0–18 years in communities, schools, health care, worksites, and child care sites in the greater Portland region in Maine. With the completion of the initial five-year demonstration, Let's Go! is now being disseminated across the state with funding from several of the initial founding funders, other private sector foundations, and the MaineHealth system, which is funding five of its member hospitals over five years to implement Let's Go! in collaboration with local partners.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    Let's Go! was founded when seven organizations in Maine recognized their mutual interests in addressing the local obesity epidemic. Together, United Way of Greater Portland, MaineHealth, Maine Medical Center, and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine recruited other private sector organizations (including Unum, Hannaford Bros. and TD Bank) to form a collaborative committed to fighting Maine's childhood obesity epidemic. Each of these seven founding organizations contributes $100,000 per year, or the equivalent in services, to serve on the Founding Partners Committee. Other funders include Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. Maine has been very successful in attracting several large grants over the past year that were leveraged in part by efforts of the Maine Convergence Partnership. These include a $2.4 million Community Transformation Grant, which will help to sustain healthy eating, active living, and other prevention measures in Let's Go! communities.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    Let's Go! focuses on changing policies and environments to create healthy people and healthy places. Building on prior experience with direct advocacy and strategic partnerships to impact policies at the state level, the Maine Convergence Partnership leveraged support from the national Convergence Partnership to explore the potential for sustained policy advocacy for healthy people and healthy places by conducting a landscape analysis/policy scan to identify the key players, resources, and opportunities to build legislative and advocacy support for healthy communities in Maine. The analysis provided the foundation for building critical new relationships with funders and advocates that is still underway, including the importance of integrating healthy community efforts with economic development and environmental efforts.

     

    Currently, the partnership is focused on organizing the partnership, determining interest in a shared funding model, and identifying possible co-funding and policy initiatives. Support from the national Convergence Partnership has allowed the Maine Convergence Partnership to reach out to many organizations individually and collectively to identify components of a shared agenda that focuses on creating and sustaining healthy communities through investments that improve the quality of life for all.

     

    Interest in "place-based" funding is growing rapidly in Maine and the issue has stimulated many conversations about the strategies and outcomes that should be pursued. One aspect of the partnership's role is to determine how best to utilize the infrastructure and strong relationships they have built via the dissemination of Let's Go! throughout the state to develop a collaborative funding model that invests in a number of rural communities. The Maine Convergence Partnership deeply values the principles of equity and is working with other funders to discuss how best to integrate these principles into funding strategies.

     

    Contact
    Dr. Victoria Rogers, Let's Go! Home Office, Maine Medical Center
    rogerv@mmc.org

    Massachusetts Convergence Partnership

    Background

     

    In 2008, in response to the emerging epidemic of obesity and overweight, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH) recruited five foundations and a health insurance company to form a unique public–private partnership to support community-level healthy eating and active living interventions to address the social determinants of health. Known as the Mass in Motion (MiM) Municipal Wellness and Leadership Grant, this campaign targets communities with the highest rates of obesity, chronic diseases, and health disparities, and supports 52 municipalities to implement cross-sector policy/systems approaches to healthy communities design, and to consider health in all policies and health equity in their policies and practices.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    To build on the MiM efforts and ensure that agencies, institutions, organizations and individuals are working collaboratively and not at cross purposes, the Massachusetts Convergence Partnership is building on the current group of MiM partners by convening a larger and more diverse group of public and private funders and partners that includes the MADPH, The Boston Foundation (TBF), the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation (HPHCF), Federal Reserve Bank (FRB), The John Merck Fund (JMF), Merck Family Fund (MFF), MetroWest Health Foundation (MHF), Partners Health Care, Tufts Health Plan Foundation, and Health Resources in Action (HRiA), among others. These partners are working to develop a statewide policy agenda to promote healthy eating and physical activity among all Massachusetts residents. The creation of the Massachusetts Convergence Partnership has provided opportunities for engaging a diverse group in a strategic planning process to identify and build upon existing efforts while also creating the momentum to develop a common vision and approach, including a statewide policy agenda to address healthy eating and physical activity.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    The broad goal of an expanded Massachusetts Convergence Partnership is to promote healthy lifestyles, prevent chronic diseases, and ensure health equity for all Massachusetts residents. To achieve this goal, the partnership seeks to bring together diverse public and private partners to create an environment in which healthy choices are the easier options for all residents, create a culture in which health impact is assessed and considered in all state and local government policies, and health equity and wellness are mutually valued goals. The Massachusetts Convergence Partnership will be an effective vehicle to strengthen and build these diverse partnerships and create a common agenda to effect policy and systems change. Over the next several months, the partnership will focus on establishing a sustainable partnership infrastructure, developing a health equity agenda that is the cornerstone of the partnership's efforts, implementing policy strategies, and supporting a statewide grantmaking initiative to promote healthy people in healthy places across the region.

     

    Contacts
    Allison Bauer, Program Director, Health and Wellness, The Boston Foundation
    allison.bauer@tbf.org

     

    Steve Ridini, Vice President, Health Resources in Action, Inc
    sridini@hria.org

     

    Karen Voci, Executive Director, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation
    Karen_voci@harvardpilgrim.org

    Michigan Convergence Partnership

    Background

     

    After several exploratory meetings in 2010, the Michigan Convergence Partnership began its work in earnest in 2011 when The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The Kresge Foundation enlisted the Michigan Public Health Institute to act as facilitators for the launch of the effort.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    The Michigan Convergence Partnership is a collaboration of five foundations, two state agencies, four statewide coalitions and seven community/grassroots organizations, each committed to accelerating efforts to promote social change. These partners support policy change that addresses a wide range of cross-cutting issues and interests, such as access to healthy food, transportation, economic development, and healthy living. Equity is the central focus of the work to ensure that changes happen where they are needed most and that community engagement is incorporated, as it is a crucial element for sustainable change. The Michigan Convergence Partnership's unique "coalition of coalitions" provides fertile ground for progress. The participation of the four established statewide coalitions has accelerated the creation of a multi-field partnership. The presence of these mature and respected coalitions, with their agendas well defined, gives the partnership an advantage—connections with trusted grass roots leaders and their members looking to connect communities to statewide agendas for change.

     

    The Michigan Convergence Partnership is using a structured collaborative model—a collective impact approach—to further its goals. (The Michigan Convergence Partnership will be among the first in the country to use the collective impact approach with a coalition of coalitions.) The process goals of the partnership include creating an environment in which partnership members can learn from each other, develop relationships, and build trust. The partnership will provide technical assistance to strengthen the coalitions to help them grow and succeed.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    The broad goal of the Michigan Convergence Partnership is to promote equity. The objective is to create a new model for social change that capitalizes on the additive strength of statewide coalitions within the partnership to promote equity through innovative policy and environmental change and to attract funders into multi-field, equity-focused grantmaking to foster healthy places. Product goals include working to shift state level and local grant making to promote new strategies to create sustainable, equitable, and healthier communities and creating a funding pool to support innovative cross-sector projects at the local level.

     

    In working to achieve equity, the Michigan Convergence Partnership has decided to focus its work on access to fresh, affordable, and healthy food and access to transportation that will allow all Michigan residents the opportunity to get to and from work and school. In addition, the partnership is working to improve the quality of education from the cradle to career to create a workforce that is prepared to fill jobs in the state's new economy. While many coalitions address each of these issues separately, the partnership is using equity as a lens to work beyond the silos of health, food, transportation, and education. The Michigan Convergence Partnership is leveraging its inclusive power to further an agenda that transforms places within the state to foster health, prosperity, and wellbeing for all residents.

     

    Contact
    Julie Hales-Smith, Senior Project Coordinator, Michigan Public Health Institute
    jhales@mphi.org

    Missouri Convergence Partnership

    Background

     

    Founded in 2008, the Missouri Convergence Partnership's mission is to leverage resources and influence to achieve significant improvements in policies and environments to support healthy eating and active living across Missouri. Specific goals include engaging new and diverse allies; building on assets, initiatives, and emerging evidence about what works; laying the foundation for an enhanced learning and advocacy structure; and advancing selected priorities that promote healthier lifestyles. The Missouri Convergence Partnership (MCP) is committed to equity and enhancing community opportunities in high-poverty rural and urban areas.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    The MCP Steering Committee includes the following investors, collaborators, and advisors: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, Hartwig Legacy Foundation dba KC Healthy Kids (KCHK), Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Heartland Foundation, Incarnate Word Foundation, Menorah Legacy Foundation, the Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition (MoCAN), the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH), and The University of Missouri Extension. MCP has a signed MOU and code of conduct, and a funding pool for joint activities. The steering committee determines the MCP's strategic priorities. Investors make final decisions about the use of pooled funds. Penman and Winton Consulting serves as Project Director, partially supported by a Convergence Partnership regional convergence grant.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    MCP has been laying the groundwork for creating policies and environments that promote healthy eating and active living within the state. This groundwork has included analyzing Missouri's efforts to halt the obesity epidemic, using the analysis to identify gaps and opportunities for synergy, increasing the understanding of how convergence partnerships operate in other states and nationally, and engaging in group strategic planning.

     

    Addressing Missouri's high levels of food insecurity, numerous food deserts, and lack of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are key priorities. Over the last two years, partners have been building advocacy capacity by supporting a diverse set of their individual grantees to attend a Healthy Communities Summit in Columbia. Leadership of MCP is currently assessing the interest and capacity of statewide organizations to identify an organization(s) to serve as lead(s) and local organizer(s) for state healthy eating and active living (HEAL) policies. MCP is monitoring Missouri's legislation and policies to identify opportunities to impact HEAL priorities.

     

    MCP has successfully leveraged its partnership to bring additional dollars and funders to the table. The partners united to support Missouri's successful Social Innovation Fund application, bringing in $2 million dollars of matching funds as well as Incarnate Word Foundation's CP Innovation Fund Award to improve food access in rural Dent county and St. Louis.

     

    Contacts
    Adriana M. Pecina, Program Officer, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City
    APecina@hcfgkc.org

     

    Amy Stringer Hessel, Program Director, Missouri Foundation for Health
    astringerhessel@mffh.org

    Heal New Hampshire

    Background

     

    Launched in 2008, Healthy Eating Active Living New Hampshire (HEAL) is a convergence of partners dedicated to preventing obesity and ensuring that the people of New Hampshire enjoy health and quality of life through healthy eating and active living. HEAL is committed to working in collaboration with its partners to inspire, advance, and support policies, systems, and environmental changes to promote healthy people in healthy places throughout New Hampshire.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    Sustainability and evaluation committees report to the HEAL Leadership Council which provides guidance to the HEAL Initiative. The HEAL Leadership Council is composed of HEAL Committee Chairs, leaders representing multiple fields (i.e., health, education, business, transportation, environment, etc.), one to two HEAL funding partners, and a chair or co-chairs. In May 2011, the HEAL NH Leadership Council approved a three-year strategic plan for 2012–2014.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    HEAL is focused on policy and environmental change strategies to advance healthy people in healthy places through a statewide infrastructure at the local community level across five sectors—schools, worksites, health care settings, food outlets, and cities/towns. In 2009, HEAL funded four regions in the state to form coalitions to implement strategies that support healthy people in healthy places. Each of the HEAL grantees was centered in one of New Hampshire‘s larger towns or cities with an additional 43 towns being reached through the regional coalitions. In order to build equitable capacity across the state, HEAL recognized the need to also engage New Hampshire‘s rural, isolated communities. Thus, beginning in 2012, HEAL funded four additional communities, two of which were rural communities, to conduct multi-sector policy and environmental change strategies for improving access to affordable, healthy foods and opportunities for active living. The intent is to build a field of leaders and strengthen community coalitions to change systems. HEAL is currently providing funding, training, and other resources to the coalitions during the grant period.

     

    The strength of HEAL includes a well-coordinated effort between the public and private sectors, a variety of funders who support convergence efforts, and multi-field partners who have integrated HEAL principles in to one or more of their activities. An example of this is the explicit inclusion of HEAL strategies in the NH Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) application to US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The 2010 SCI application was compiled and submitted by the Regional Planning Commissions who sought HEAL‘s expertise and knowledge to integrate built environment principles and health. HEAL provided a $50,000 grant to help the planning commissions secure a $3.3-million HUD SCI grant in 2011. This funding has been distributed among the nine regional planning commissions across the state to integrate healthy eating, active living principles into their regional plans. The regional planning commissions enjoy a strong partnership with HEAL and will play an integral role assisting communities with building the skills and knowledge for developing policy and environmental change strategies for review by local town officials.

     

    Contact
    Terry Johnson, Director HEAL NH, Foundation for Healthy Communities
    tjohnson@healthynh.com

    North Carolina Convergence Partnership

    Background

     

    The NC Convergence Partnership was officially formed in 2010 and came together around four shared interests: 1) increase understanding of geographic funding disparities and encourage foundations to invest strategically and recognize opportunities for innovation, particularly in rural areas; 2) provide consistent messages to health promotion and health care practitioners statewide, ensuring the use of the most promising strategies across entities; 3) create more opportunities for jointly funded initiatives; and 4) invest in evidence-based programs, policies, and practices to improve the health of communities in North Carolina.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    The partners of the NC Convergence Partnership are Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC Foundation; The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust; The Duke Endowment; and the NC Division of Public Health, Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    The partnership has engaged numerous stakeholders across the state to explore opportunities to collaborate around youth empowerment, community capacity building, and grantmaking through a social justice lens. Activities to date have been program officer led and, as a result, bringing along executive leadership has been slower than anticipated. A convening with executive leadership took place in September 2012 where commitments to the principles of the partnership were reinforced. Recent national activity on providing access to healthy food has become a focused interest of the partnership. As a follow up to a 2012 convening of NC food system funders, led by the Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders, Grantmakers in Health, and the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers, the NC Convergence Partnership is developing a follow-up statewide convening. This convening is designed to map funder investments and begin to coordinate food systems improvements efforts in the state. The work will bring about the possibility of sparking engagement, greater collective action and impact, and broader structural transformation. The partnership is actively seeking engagement from non-health funders in NC to lend expertise and broaden its health-focused scope.

     

    Contact
    Jennifer MacDougall, Senior Program Officer, Healthy Active Communities, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Foundation
    jennifer.macdougall@bcbsnc.com

     

    Meka Sales, Program Officer, Healthcare, The Duke Endowment
    msales@tde.org

     

    Northwest Convergence Partnership

    Background
     

    In 2009, the Northwest Health Foundation earned an Innovation Fund award from the national Convergence Partnership. The goal of the Innovation Fund grant was to foster greater involvement of communities of color in influencing policy frameworks within the healthy eating and active living movement in Multnomah County, Oregon. The Northwest Health Foundation partnered with six other local and regional funders to create a $600,000 pooled grant fund. Seven community-based organizations were supported through this fund. Collectively, these organizations achieved eight distinct policy and environmental change objectives that will create better opportunities for health over the long term. Regional convergence efforts are under way in Oregon, thanks to a Convergence Partnership grant awarded in the fall of 2011.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    The Northwest Convergence Partnership recognizes the importance of engaging more partners in efforts to advance the vision of healthy people in healthy places. The entry point to this conversation with other funders is food. Therefore, the Northwest Health Foundation approached Meyer Memorial Trust and Kaiser Permanente Northwest, two other regional funders already making investments in food systems. These three partners saw that support from the national Convergence Partnership as an opportunity to work more intentionally at the intersection of their respective investments in food systems and access to healthy food, to build on existing efforts, to establish an explicit focus on equity and health, and to move beyond the Portland metropolitan area to include more rural communities that are an integral part of the food systems discussion. While some other related issues will undoubtedly emerge (transportation, land use policies, economic development), right now the focus is on expanding the work in aspects of the food system beyond the retail component (production, processing, etc.). Oregon has an emerging food system funders network. This group represents a logical starting point for broadening funder engagement. The partnership's goal is to bring on at least two new funding partners during the partnership's grant period.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    Kaiser and Meyer Memorial separately convened their food systems grantees and then did a crosswalk between the results of the two convenings, identifying common priorities, challenges, opportunities, and gaps for partnership. While each approaches their work through slightly different lenses, they agreed that they shared a vision of a food system in Oregon and southwest Washington that achieves health, equity, sustainability, and economic development objectives. The partners collectively identified three main constituencies that were not adequately represented in the food system movement to date: farmworkers, tribal communities, and small- to mid-sized farmers and other producers. They invited and funded proposals from organizations representing all three of these groups to advance their food policy or environmental change goals, and to participate in the larger network of funded organizations. The partnership continues to work on accelerating the food movement in their region, with an explicit emphasis on equity, and on driving the sorts of policy and systemic changes that will lead to a healthier, more equitable, sustainable, and more economically vibrant food system.

     

    Contact
    Chris Kabel, Senior Program Officer, Northwest Health Foundation
    ckabel@nwhf.org

     

     

    Ohio Regional Convergence Partnership

    Background

     

    In 2011, the Ohio Regional Convergence Partnership (ORCP) was established to advance the vision of healthy people in healthy places in the state of Ohio. As a funder collaborative, ORCP aims to support multi-field partnerships in achieving equitable and sustainable environmental and policy changes specifically around increased access to healthy foods and physical activity.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    The ORCP Steering Committee consists of The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, Osteopathic Heritage Foundations, Kaiser Permanente Saint Luke's Foundation of Cleveland, and Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland. Building upon previous partnership efforts, the ORCP seeks to leverage opportunities to increase its reach and impact across the state via strategic investments.

     

    The idea of an Ohio partnership formed immediately following the Convergence Partnership presentation at the Ohio Grantmakers Forum. The ORCP supports efforts that accelerate collaboration among funders, advocates, practitioners, and community leaders to promote and support equity-focused environmental and policy change efforts across the health spectrum. This includes access to healthy foods and physical activity through cross-sector collaborations that impact people in the places where they live, work, learn, play, and worship.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    Accelerated by a strategic planning award from the Convergence Partnership, ORCP is committed to advancing equity and healthy communities sustained through multi-sector integration, coordination of systems, alignment of resources, and policy change by prioritizing access to healthy foods and physical activity and reducing chronic risk factors for Ohioans. In their work of exploring strategic opportunities and developing partnerships, ORCP engaged the Health Policy Institute of Ohio to conduct a statewide landscape analysis of efforts related to improving access to healthy food and physical activity, addressing equity and identifying sustainable interventions that could be scaled up or replicated in other regions of the state. The ORCP partners utilized this data and continued to strategize with the technical support of Leverage Point Development on the best use of resources, mobilization, and united advocacy efforts.

     

    As planning has continued, ORCP determined a strategic opportunity around making local food accessible to increase healthy food access for young children, school age children, and other vulnerable populations and, simultaneously, building the capacity of growers and producers (including urban farmers and small rural farmers). In addition to increasing access to healthy, affordable, local food, outcomes of these efforts will seek to decrease chronic health risk factors associated with obesity for school-aged children and vulnerable populations and work to provide economic development in communities by utilizing local growers and producers. In their work developing partnerships, ORCP has engaged additional multi-sector partners to ensure alignment with currently established strategies, most notably with the Ohio Department of Health, which will release statewide health indicators and strategies in 2012. ORCP expects its strategic direction to fit within the priorities of the state in terms of preventing and reducing the burden of chronic disease for all Ohioans and building strong communities by increasing access to healthy foods and physical activity and decreasing health disparities.

     

    Contact:
    Teleange Thomas, Program Officer, Health, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland
    tthomas@socfcleveland.org

    Greater Philadelphia Food Funders

    Background

     

    Formed in 2009, the Greater Philadelphia Food Funders (Food Funders) is a regional affinity group based at Delaware Valley Grantmakers (DVG), Philadelphia's regional grantmakers membership association. The Food Funders consists of philanthropic professionals who have self-identified as having an interest in funding food system work. Participants represent the broad spectrum of philanthropy: independent foundations, family foundations, grantmaking public charities, corporate foundations, and some individual donors. The common denominator is grantmaking aimed at creating more equitable access to healthy foods and economic opportunity around healthy foods.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

    The Food Funders is a network of more than 70 individuals representing about 40 funding organizations with a smaller core group of funders. Together the Food Funders have undertaken various activities including quarterly newsletters, learning sessions, information sharing, joint grantmaking, and donor outreach. Two rotating co-chairs coordinate the efforts of the Food Funders, in overlapping two-year terms. In February 2013, the Food Funders received a grant from the national Convergence Partnership to support a three-part project that includes a strategic plan, a landscape analysis, and an outreach plan to spark collective action and measurable change.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    Over the last four years, individual funders have worked together on various efforts. In 2010, several funders joined together and made coordinated grants to leverage $1 million in federal stimulus funding through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Several Food Funders engaged partners to develop regional recommendations to the Farm Bill. Most recently, a group of funders collaboratively supported the creation of a Food Donor Mapping Guide—to be published in June 2013—that will present private donors with a framework for food system-wide funding.

     

    The Food Funders are currently embarking on a strategic planning process to allow the group to review its shared leadership structure and decision-making processes, identify promising practices, explore more opportunities for joint impact to advance positive food system change, and outline a plan for collective action. They are also initiating a landscape analysis, telling the story about why the Philadelphia region is a leader in fighting childhood obesity, which will engage additional funders not already involved in the Food Funders. Finally, the Food Funders will engage in further funder outreach and identify opportunities for collective grantmaking, measurement and evaluation, and policy work.

     

    Contact
    Jan Schaeffer, St. Christopher's Foundation for Children
    jss@scfchildren.org

     

    Anna Brendle, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation
    abrendle@pottstownfoundation.org

     

    Allison Hastings, Delaware Redevelopment Agency
    ahastings@dvrpc.org

    Washington Regional Convergence Partnership

    Background

     

    The Washington Regional Convergence Partnership was formally established in 2011. Comprising twelve foundations—family, community and private—the collaborative has a long-term commitment to both improve the food systems in the region and take the lead in setting an equity-focused agenda as it pertains to related initiatives and investments. While each institution has its own priorities, the partnership works together to align their food systems work. Collectively, they envision an equitable regional food system that ensures food security and decreased chronic disease for all, affordable and nutritious food, aligned investments among the philanthropic community that promote equity in the food system, and increased investment in the local and sustainable food economy.

     

    Collaboration and Infrastructure

     

     

    In 2011, the DC Regional Convergence Partnership received a planning grant from the Convergence Partnership to better understand how philanthropic investments focused on access to healthy and affordable food were being made throughout the greater Washington, DC region and to develop a "Regional Food Systems Framework" that outlines the steps needed to create an equitable food system in the Washington metropolitan region. To begin their planning grant process, the partnership adopted a working definition for the term equity to assist in obtaining clarity on the goals of what an equitable food system can look like. By the end of their planning grant period, the partnership had created their own working definition of equity, defined their vision and mission, drafted equity criteria to guide their grantmaking, and developed a framework to guide their equitable food systems work. As part of their current grant, the partnership will continue to build and sustain a regional, cross-sector working group of funders committed to advancing equitable food systems by sharing information and hosting recruitment meetings to bring new partners into the discussion.

     

    Strategies and Activities

     

    The DC Regional Convergence Partnership will continue to incorporate equity criteria into their activities. One of the first areas of consideration for each of the participating funders is how true "equity" will be incorporated into their own organizations. The partnership is committed to setting aside time for its members to candidly and confidentially discuss strategies that would encourage personal transformation and could be included in their own institutions' policies and practices. Activities for the partnership will include further developing the equity criteria and other models for collecting equity-related data and refining communications strategies and messages around equity.

     

    Moving forward, the partnership will identify opportunities for co-investment on the production and distribution side of developing an equitable regional food system; strengthen, support, and connect local food systems at a regional level through emerging food policy councils; and develop a shared, multi-stakeholder agenda for change over the next three to five years.

     

    Contact
    Tamara Copeland, President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
    copeland@washingtongrantmakers.org