The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has announced the inaugural awards of the Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds (the Funds), which includes support to the Mass. Healthy Aging Collaborative (MHAC) and a number of age-friendly community initiatives.
As part of these awards, DPH, and its implementing partner Health Resources in Action, Inc., will join with MHAC and 31 other organizations across Massachusetts and more than 35 of their community partners, including non-profit community-based organizations, municipalities, and regional planning commissions. All of these organizations, including MHAC have committed to leading efforts to address the root causes of health inequities by disrupting systemic barriers to health and tackling institutional and structural racism head-on. During the pandemic, the need to support such efforts is even more imperative.
In total ~$14.7M in grants will support 32 lead organizations and 35 of their partner organizations implementing strategies, ultimately impacting 163 cities and towns across the state.
The goal of the funds is to work with community partners to increase awareness and address the impact of structural racism on population health, and to create long-term, meaningful changes in population health outcomes, including mental health and chronic disease.
The Funds invests in initiatives in three core areas of focus including those:
- Working on long-lasting, community-driven policy, systems, and environmental changes that will make it easier to lead healthy lives and which will reduce health inequities such as racial patterns of segregation in communities and a lack of affordable housing production;
- Organizing and coordinating Community Health Improvement Planning efforts which convene multi-sector partnerships to collectively set and address community health goals, and;
- Working to address policies and systems that increase opportunities for healthy aging.
Recognizing the complex ways in which systems impact health, the investments will support a wide range of activities across the Commonwealth.
Specifically, MHAC will work with three communities across the Commonwealth to pilot the “Healthy Aging for All Guide,” which is focused on embedding access, equity and inclusion into the age-and dementia friendly movement.
This guide includes resources and tools that age-and dementia-friendly community stakeholders can use to promote conversations and take action to reduce inequities. Being more inclusive can broaden the impact of local Age-and Dementia-Friendly initiatives, strengthen communities, and improve access to services and opportunities.
The Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds were created in January 2017 when DPH completed a landmark revision of its Determination of Need (DoN) regulation, which authorized the creation of these Funds. DPH provides overall guidance to the Funds and Health Resources in Action, Inc. acts as a fiduciary and implementing partner. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) partners with DPH to support the Healthy Aging Fund.
More information about the Funds can be found at https://mahealthfunds.org/