The Humana Foundation’s Focus for the Future

By Walter D. Woods

Humana Foundation Chief Executive Officer

As the new leader of the Humana Foundation, I am excited about the opportunities ahead of us – opportunities to work with communities to give more of their residents a chance to get healthy, and stay healthy. Opportunities to create greater health equity (attainment of the highest level of health for all people) so that even people with the biggest barriers in their paths are able to overcome them.

Although we are in the midst of a significant shift in our strategy, the common thread that will connect our past to our future is woven through a singular storyline about people’s health. Since 1981, the Humana Foundation has been funding programs, innovations, and organizational growth and making a positive impact in the communities we have served, and we are proud of every story we have helped write.

Whether it is the story of the Humana Romania Assistance Project, and the hundreds of volunteers who joined in the effort to improve the health of a generation of Romanians … or the story of our multiyear effort to build multigenerational playgrounds with KaBOOM! for grandparents to have safe places to play with their grandkids … we have as many life changing stories to share as the number of lives we have transformed.

Today, as we begin writing new stories, we are looking for new ways to turn every dollar we invest into sustainable solutions that help people achieve greater health equity. This is why we have been creating a new strategy for the Humana Foundation – because we want to deepen our impact in the communities we serve. And this is why the foundation is evolving its funder work to investor work that focuses more intentionally on identifying sustainable solutions that help people achieve their healthiest lives.

In 2018, the Humana Foundation expects to make a greater impact by issuing “fewer, bigger” grants in the communities we serve. These grants will have a longer-term focus, recognizing that the change the foundation seeks will likely take years to achieve, in partnership with others. We will be working to identify partners – at the local, regional and national level – because joining forces with like-minded entities can result in more impactful, broad-based and sustainable change.

The Humana Foundation is now focusing on improving the social determinants of health before they contribute to long-term negative outcomes (e.g., asset and financial security, food security, and social connection). After all, it is hard to focus on your health if you don’t have a job or adequate retirement income, if you don’t have enough to eat, or if you aren’t connecting with people on a regular basis. We believe this evolution of our approach will help the Humana Foundation achieve its overall vision of contributing to greater health equity in the communities we serve.

We know we cannot succeed on our own, though, which is why we will be looking to find new partners in the weeks and months ahead, partners who share our vision of greater health, and our belief that we must care about everyone’s health. We expect our work to have sustainable impact, enhanced by the national and community partnerships we will forge.

Until all of us have an opportunity to live a healthy life, none of us can truly experience our best health. But this is a story we are committed to continue helping write, a story that can be better and brighter and bolder than it has ever been before, if enough people care enough to make that happen.