Health and Wellness

Health + Wellness

Promoting and advancing health equity, conditions in which everyone – across all forms of identity and socioeconomic status – has the opportunity to attain their best health and thrive.

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Overview

Our vision for the Health and Wellness impact area is to promote and advance health equity conditions in which everyone- across all forms of identity- has the opportunity to attain their best health. We do this by:

  1. Leveraging our platform and resources to build mission-driven, collaborative partnerships to collectively address some of the biggest drivers of health inequities – conditions that create systemic barriers that disrupt individual(s) and communities’ ability to thrive.
  2. Catalyzing efforts to collaboratively build and sustain conditions that allow for improved health outcomes and increased quality of life, particularly among vulnerable populations.

The Health and Wellness impact area consists of three major investment strategies that are: Obesity prevention, Social Determinants of Health and Stress and health.

Our Strategy

Facilitating shifts in institutional practices to support engagement in healthy behaviors associated with obesity prevention.
Enhancing clinical-community linkages and cross-sector partnerships to eliminate barriers that disrupt equitable access across the Social Determinants of Health.
Facilitating institutional shifts and strengthen infrastructure to address stress as a major determinant of health.


Strategy in Detail

Obesity prevention

Our goal for the obesity prevention strategy is to facilitate shifts in institutional practices to support engagement in healthy behaviors associated with obesity prevention.

Playworks coach and student talk on playground
Playworks
Obesity is a major public health issue in Greater Boston and across the nation. It is associated with increased risk for other chronic health conditions, some of which are major drivers of death and disability. Healthy behaviors such as consumption of healthy foods and engaging in physical activity are considered to be modifiable risk factors in that they can help to significantly lower one’s risk for developing obesity and other chronic diseases such as hypertension and heart disease. Our partners work within healthcare and school settings to leverage lessons learned from evidence-based research and create environmental shifts to foster healthy behaviors among youth.

 


Social Determinants of Health

Our goal for this strategy is to enhance clinical-community linkages and cross-sector partnerships to eliminate barriers that disrupt equitable access across the Social Determinants of Health.

Health Starts at Home Learn more about Health Starts at Home

Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) are commonly referred to as the conditions and societal circumstances in which people are born, live, work and age. Research has identified a wide range of social factors that are associated with differences in health outcomes. They include political, socioeconomic and cultural constructs, as well as place-based conditions such as accessible healthcare and education systems, safe environmental conditions, neighborhood design (e.g. sidewalks) and availability of healthy food.

This investment is considered to be cross-cutting and will help to inform ways to strengthen our work. Health Starts at Home is a key initiative that supports the SDOH Strategy that brings together housing and healthcare organizations to support work that demonstrates the positive benefits of stable, affordable housing on children’s health outcomes.

This initiative builds off of the strong relationships the Boston Foundation possesses with anchor institutions, such as healthcare, in addition to Greater Boston’s community-based organizations to foster clinical-community linkages and influence a level of systems change that is powered by community voice.


Stress and Health

Our goal for the Stress and Health strategy is facilitate institutional shifts and strengthen infrastructure to address stress as a major determinant of health.

Stress can impact all of us and stressors can have a major influence on our sense of well-being and overall health. If the stressor is unremitting, particularly among those already experiencing repeated exposure to chronic stress, the long-term and cumulative effects of stress can lead to poor health.

The impact of stress can be chronic for people in poverty. Furthermore, for children in poverty, the chronic stress of poverty can carry into adulthood. In the United States, nearly 50% of children experience one or more adverse childhood experiences. Adverse childhood experiences can impose chronic stress and result in effects on lifelong physical and mental health, learning/behavior problems and chronic disease such as obesity and heart disease. Lastly, there is a number of studies that demonstrate the impact of stress is further exacerbated among people of color, due to experiences of discrimination.

Grantee Spotlight: Sportsmen's Tennis & Enrichment Center

STEC Match Point - Daniel

Sportsmen's Tennis & Enrichment Center is the first indoor non-profit tennis club built by and for the African American community located in Dorchester, MA. Sportsmen's mission is to build leaders on the court, in the classroom and in the greater community by providing academic, wellness and social development programs alongside recreational and competitive tennis instruction for youth and adults.

The Boston Foundation's grantmaking supports STEC's signature efforts for adults and youth, such as the Center for Community Wellness and Match Point, which makes healthy, fun, physical activity through tennis available to the 10,000 youth ages 5-18 who live and/or attend school in the surrounding neighborhoods of Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury.

  Contact our team

For more information on the Boston Foundation's Health and Wellness work, please contact:

Ruth Cormier
Program Associate, Health and Wellness
Email