Centering Equity and Justice in Our Work

The Colorado Health Foundation is committed to being a diverse, inclusive and equity-centered champion for the health and well-being of Coloradans. We collaborate with organizations and communities across the state to break down the many systemic barriers to achieving health and well-being. Because racism and racial injustice are major drivers of health inequity, we prioritize communities of color in all that we do, and we advocate for and invest in solutions and policies that drive health equity and racial justice.
  • Health is a basic human right. Every person and community has the right to have what they need to live healthy lives.
  • People’s identities are multilayered. A person’s identity consists of multiple intersecting elements like race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, country of origin, religion and others. These layers intersect and overlap, creating interconnected systems of privilege and oppression that keep health out of reach for some.
  • We acknowledge that we have been part of the problem. The Foundation exists in a philanthropic field born of fortunes made by racist policies that have exploited and oppressed people of color. We must grapple with our inherent power in a system that has historically disregarded and even perpetuated racial injustice.
  • We need to be a disruptor at times — and part of the solution. The most impactful role we can play is to call attention to and disrupt systems that keep health out of reach for communities of color — and use our learning as a model for the philanthropic field.
  • Our work is guided by three cornerstones that are “must-haves” in all we do: We do everything with the intent of creating health equity; we serve Coloradans who have less power, privilege and income, and we prioritize Coloradans of color; and we are informed by community and those we exist to serve. We expect our partners to prioritize these cornerstones in their work to ensure we never stray from our goals.
  • We cultivate an organizational culture and operational approach that prioritize equity, justice and inclusion practices. We continually implement and evolve antiracist practices that prioritize and advance equity and justice across all that we do.
  • We prioritize key “levers of disruption” to maximize impact. We developed an internal racial justice framework to ensure that our work centers health equity and racial justice practices. This framework includes the tools we use to disrupt inequitable and racist systems, such as allocating financial resources, meaningfully engaging with community, cultivating deliberate relationships, advancing public discourse, catalyzing more just policies and practices and intentionally wielding our power while elevating power in community.
  •  We hold ourselves accountable. As an organization focused on pursuing racial justice to achieve health equity, we hold ourselves publicly accountable by collecting and sharing data that demonstrate our progress in how we center race and ethnicity in our work. The accountabilities show how — over time — our investments, advisors, partners, grantees and staff encapsulate and represent diverse experiences and perspectives. We collect demographic data on the Foundation’s staff and Board of Directors and request key demographic data from grant applicants to help us understand how our partners approach the work of advancing equity. 
At the Foundation, our core values embrace inclusivity, cultural understanding and language justice. We're committed to extending our mission as active contributors and catalysts for positive change within Colorado's communities to all its residents, particularly the nearly 12% who speak Spanish. 
We acknowledge the multifaceted challenges Spanish speakers face. We recognize that addressing language barriers, along with cultural and accessibility needs, is crucial to lessen these disparities. Our aim is to establish genuine, trusting relationships and benefit from diverse experiences and perspectives. We're dedicated to laying out a clear path to better engage with diverse communities, honoring the languages and cultures they cherish.
Our journey in this endeavor has been purposeful and strategic, spanning years of exploration, learning and meticulous planning across various internal functions. It reflects our profound commitment to creating meaningful connections with Spanish speakers through language access and cultural relevance. This strategic endeavor is grounded in several key principles and insights:
  • Language as a Barrier: We understand that language is a significant barrier contributing to unfair treatment and inequality.
  • Spanish as a Priority: While we're committed to serving all language communities, we prioritize engaging with Spanish speakers while remaining open to considering additional languages in the future. 
  • Staff Education: We proactively involve our staff in education and training related to language justice, recognizing that fostering a bilingual organization necessitates a shared dedication to learning and growth.
  • Humility and Learning: We approach this work humbly, acknowledging that there's always room for improvement. Continuous learning and development are integral to better serving Spanish-speaking communities.
  • Leveraging Momentum: We harness the existing momentum in Colorado's philanthropic landscape, understanding that collaboration and shared objectives can lead to broader positive outcomes.
  • Strategic Resource Allocation: Internally and externally, we strike a balance between resource allocation and effectiveness to ensure sustainable commitment to language justice and accessibility.
Our strategic initiative encompasses the following areas of work:
  • Research: Actively engaging with Spanish speakers in Colorado and the philanthropic sector helps us understand their needs, obstacles and aspirations. Research initiatives, like the Spanish Pulse Poll and messaging research, guide our tailored approaches. 
  • Staff Engagement and Learning: Our staff plays a crucial role. Equipping them with education and tools fosters their meaningful contribution to language justice.
  • Human Resources: We're shaping HR policies to address recruitment and retention practices, extending our commitment to inclusivity across all facets of our organization.
  • Communications: Our communication strategies, from convening and marketing to evaluation, are designed to be inclusive, culturally sensitive and linguistically accessible.
  • Grantmaking: We scrutinize every aspect of our grantmaking efforts, from application processes to site visits and capacity-building programs, for increased inclusivity. This work includes removing language and cultural barriers to empower Spanish-speaking communities.
If you're interested in learning more about this effort, contact Taryn Fort, Senior Director of Communications and External Influence. 
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