Health & Human Services

Boy tennis  photo

With its highly-regarded teaching hospitals, network of community-based health centers and sophisticated research institutions, Greater Boston is a world-class health care hub.  But, as with other areas across the country, the growing cost of health care is crowding out investments in the determinants of health including education, recreation and the environment—and an alarming rise in chronic illness is only adding to the crisis. The Boston Foundation focuses on encouraging healthy behaviors among Boston residents, increasing access to healthy food, providing more opportunities for physical activity and making Massachusetts the national leader in health and wellness.

With the goal of shifting the state’s focus from “health care” to “health” and making Massachusetts the national leader in health and wellness, the Boston Foundation, along with NEHI, launched the Healthy People/Healthy Economy initiative. In June of 2012, the initiative released its Second Annual Report Card, grading 14 different health indicators in four major areas: physical activity; access to healthy foods; investments in health and wellness; and citizen education and engagement. In June 2013, the initiative released its Third Annual Report Card. The initiative has also helped file legislation on Beacon Hill to remove the favored tax status for sugar-sweetened beverages and an omnibus bill that would require physical activity in schools and encourage healthy food businesses in underserved areas. Through its Understanding Boston series, the Foundation also held a number of forums on health, including: Soda, Snacks and the Obesity Epidemic; Active Bodies, Active Minds: The Need for Physical Activity in School; and Rebranding Public Health.

The Boston Foundation also launched the CHAMPS Boston initiative, which promotes youth development through sports. The initiative uses of out-of-school time to encourage activities that offer young people in Boston access to high-quality athletic opportunities.  Since its pilot program in 2009, CHAMPS has trained thousands of coaches and reached tens of thousands of youth in Greater Boston. The Foundation also makes multi-year grants to organizations that focus on physical exercise, such as Playworks and the Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center, both of which provide physical activity to students throughout Boston. Organizations like the Bowdoin Street Health Center, which provides healthy food to Boston’s neighborhoods, are also among those supported by the Foundation.