The Philanthropic Collaborative for a Healthy Georgia evolved out of a series of meetings hosted by the Georgia Health Foundation in 1999. The collaborative is an informal, loosely structured and evolutionary group that brings Georgia foundations together to better understand and respond to the health-related challenges facing our state. The collaborative defines the word “health” very broadly. Although many Georgia foundations do not have “health” as a stated funding priority, most foundations do have great concern for the overall well-being of our state’s families and communities.
The primary purpose of the collaborative is to enable foundation staff and trustees to be more informed and effective in their own grant making activities. The collaborative sponsors symposia, workshops and policy papers that help grantmakers learn about our state’s health-related problems and challenges, as well as potential strategies and opportunities for private philanthropy to impact on these problems and challenges.
Foundations that participate in a collaborative’s learning agenda will often individually fund projects they identify as a result of this study process. The collaborative also pursues opportunities that allow interested foundations to collectively fund very targeted and strategic initiatives that are identified as a result of a collaborative learning agenda. These collectively funded initiatives typically focus on opportunities to impact healthcare policy and practice and to leverage systemic change. These initiatives typically take from two to three years to implement. Collective funding initiatives of the collaborative have included:
- The School Health Initiative (2000 – 2004), that provided multi-year grants to 13 communities using $901,000 in funds contributed by 20 private foundations plus the State of Georgia. Communities utilized funds to develop coordinated school health programs that reflected their unique local needs and resources. All grants focused on serving low-income and medically underserved children. Each community provided local matching funds to expand the impact of the collaborative’s grants.
- The Rural Health Initiative (2001 – 2003), that provided nine organizations, serving 37 rural Georgia counties, about $2 million in public and private funds to improve health status and access to care for rural Georgians. The collaborative’s funds were leveraged by the addition of local and state matching funds and a national foundation.
- The Cancer Initiative (2002 – 2004), that resulted in the development of a Framework for Community Based Cancer Prevention and Control that provides a valuable tool to local communities in their efforts to reduce the incidence of cancer. Part of the $25,000 was used to co-sponsor a fund-raising workshop for regional cancer programs.
- The Georgia Youth Fitness Assessment (2003 – 2008), that collected baseline data on physical fitness and physical activity from 5,248 5th and 7th graders in 93 randomly selected Georgia schools. About $800,000 was raised from private and public entities to support this initiative. The final report, Georgia Youth Fitness Assessment 2006 has served as a vehicle for strategic communication with policy.
- Health Care Safety Net for Metro Atlanta Uninsured Population (2008 – 2009). The collaborative completed a year-long comprehensive study of the safety net, learning about the uninsured, financing mechanisms, and best practices to improve access to primary care.
Participation in the collaborative is open to all Georgia grantmakers, including private foundations, community foundations and corporate grant making programs. There are no membership fees or dues, nor is there any formal organizational structure. The work of the collaborative is guided by a Steering Committee comprised of any and all interested foundations.
The collaborative contracts with the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University to provide needed staff support. Health Policy Center staff assist the collaborative by researching issues and best practices, developing policy briefs, organizing workshops, and coordinating the implementation of jointly funded initiatives. Because of its relationship with the state and federal private and public sectors, as well as the university, the Philanthropic Collaborative serves as a national model for successful public/private partnerships.