Sharing the Foundation’s Understanding of Health Equity: Our vision for advancing health equity in our region

St. David’s Foundation plays a critical role in advancing health equity within Central Texas. As we work toward this important mission, we are committed to uncovering our own biases, beliefs, and protocols so that we may better serve the Central Texas community. To do this, both internally and in collaboration with our peers and partners, we must first have a shared understanding of the definition, root causes, and social and environmental factors that exacerbate health inequities.

We believe health equity is both a process and an outcome.

As an outcome, health equity is achieved when all Central Texans have a fair chance to achieve optimal health and there are no longer predictable differences in health status due to ethnicity, race, age, ability, or geography. Eliminating health disparities cannot be accomplished without seriously addressing the underlying systems—many of which are shaped by injustice and inequality. This requires examining “equity” as a process across the continuum—which includes individuals, departments/organizations, and our community partners. That process begins with a thorough examination of our own internal practices. To that end, we are looking inward at our own biases, beliefs, and ways of working so that we may better serve our communities.

Over the years, we have increasingly shifted our focus from health to health equity. In this purpose paper, we seek to expand on this basic definition of equity and explain how we are changing our internal processes to ensure those who historically have had less power or opportunity are at the center of the work.

As we look ahead, we recognize that equity is difficult to measure, and it is achieved through an iterative process. The process and strategies to meet equity goals require ongoing learning and refinement in partnership with our community. We expect this vision to evolve over time, and we share this vision as our starting point.

Download the full purpose paper here.

Download a one-page overview here.

We welcome feedback and questions related to our understanding of health equity. Join the conversation by emailing evalstrategiclearning@stdavidsfoundation.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you to the contributing authors of this paper, Senior Learning & Evaluation Officer Ellie Haggerty Coplin, MPH, and former Senior Capacity Building Officer Dr. Denise Herrera.

TAKEAWAY

Health equity is achieved when all Central Texans have a fair chance to achieve optimal health and there are no longer predictable differences in health status due to ethnicity, race, age, ability, or geography. Shifting from a focus on health to one of health equity reorients the Foundation’s theory of philanthropy from funding services for the most vulnerable to eliminating systemic causes of differences in health.


For St. David's Foundation:

Dr. Edward Burger

President and CEO


Dr. Edward Burger

President and CEO

Focus Area: