The foundation’s mission is to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities. Within this broad focus, the specific goals of the foundation are to protect and promote the health of individuals, families, and communities; to improve the availability, quality, appropriateness, and financing of health care services; and to integrate and coordinate efforts to improve those services.
Healthcare Georgia Foundation was created in 1999 from an endowment provided by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, before the insurance company converted to a for-profit corporate structure. This endowment represented a commitment and preservation of public funds dedicated to improving the health of Georgians.
The foundation, then called Healthcare Georgia Inc., adopted as its goal the advancement of health care for all Georgians. A nine-member board of directors was also created, with the primary role of approving grants for nonprofit health care purposes, such as health care policy analysis, changes in health care systems, and projects to improve health care for the uninsured.
In December 2001 Healthcare Georgia was restructured and renamed Healthcare Georgia Foundation Inc. A volunteer board of directors was appointed, and the foundation moved to the Hurt Building in downtown Atlanta. The following March, the foundation appointed Gary D. Nelson to serve as president, with primary responsibilities for the strategic grantmaking vision, staff development, and the infrastructure of the organization.
Grantmaking and Healthcare Policy
The foundation has established three grantmaking priority areas that support its mission: addressing health disparities, expanding access to primary health care, and strengthening nonprofit health organizations. In order to understand the most pressing health issues and make informed decisions, foundation staffers conduct listening tours, public opinion polls, and conferences.
In 2004 Healthcare Georgia Foundation invested significant grant resources in nonpartisan policy research and analysis aimed at informing all sides of the health care debate. The foundation supported organizations and programs that effectively apply strategic health policy as an important vehicle for change.
In addition the foundation periodically publishes HealthVoices, an educational service for Georgians interested in health policy. Issues of HealthVoices have featured the results of public opinion polls on health care coverage and prevention, childhood obesity, the analysis of the 2003 tobacco tax increase, and the role of physical activity in schools.
Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s initial year of grantmaking, in 2002, featured thirty-nine grants to programs and organizations across Georgia, totaling more than $4.3 million. In fiscal year 2004, the foundation’s assets were approximately $122 million. As of 2004, more than 143 grant awards totaling $12.6 million have been made. Each year the foundation awards roughly $4 million to $5 million in grants. The 2005 award recipients include the American Diabetes Association to support the Georgia Latino Diabetes Education Program; Lowndes County Partnership for Health to support the Well Workplace wellness program; Whitefoord Community Program to support a weight-loss/fitness program for children in Metropolitan Atlanta; the National Council of La Raza to support the Georgia Latino/Hispanic Health Agenda and Leadership Project; and United Way of the Coastal Empire to support and develop a care navigator model to link community-based resources for low-income residents of Chatham County.