The Foundation’s aim is to solve the intractable problems confronting and impeding the lives of persons living in south Pinellas County, especially within those groups that have experienced major obstacles to health and well-being due to historical or contemporary injustice. This work is not easy, and it is not done alone or in a vacuum; the solutions are co-created with the people who live here and across multiple sectors, not imposed, and within a social context. And the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg – with its unique flexibility and independence – has a critical enabling, synthesizing and organizing role to play in fostering and sustaining these new, innovative ways of contemplating and connecting.
Social innovation is an intentional process of bringing multi-sector thinking, creativity and solutions to challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues. People who work together, think aloud together, gather purposely or casually in a communal space, overhear and offer—with no bad idea, through no wrong door—will come up with novel solutions to our hardest social problems.
Social innovation is the strategic framework underlying all Foundation activities moving forward. Our plans for 2019 include opening A Center for Social Change, a facility where individuals, groups and organizations can come together to explore, learn, work, imagine, incubate, collaborate and co-create solutions to our community’s most intractable barriers to good health.
While the majority of Foundation community investments will be made through the social innovation strategic framework described above, grantmaking in 2018 included a round of Empowerment grants and one round of Capacity Building grants. Applications opened in April for Capacity Building Grants and in May for Empowerment Grants. For both grant cycles, the Foundation hosted several “Think-Out-Loud” sessions and other events designed to solicit good ideas and address emerging community priorities with targeted funding. Go to our Grantmaking page to access the list of nonprofits awarded funding in 2018.
The Foundation’s convening work brings together a range of diverse participants to engage in a collaborative effort that serves a specific, shared purpose—tapping collective wisdom and creativity to inform choice and enable change. Given the substantial commitment of resources required by these efforts, the Foundation will focus on a few strategic priorities each year. In 2018, the emphasis and priority will be on four areas: Housing, Education, Food & Nutrition and Inclusive Economic Opportunity. This does not preclude addressing other social determinants of health, but rather a strategic focus to deploy resources toward transformative change.
We will continue to identify additional convening opportunities and support the convening approach, tailoring it to the pace, readiness and will of the community that is driving the issue. Ongoing research and listening will help ascertain additional needs and opportunities in areas prioritized by the community such as education, mental health and emerging issues.
Capacity building is a continuous improvement strategy that is intentional, coordinated and mission-driven to maximize the potential of organizations in Pinellas County to perform, solve problems and set and achieve goals toward a shared purpose. The Foundation will seek opportunities to elevate the capacity of all sectors and promote their wisdom, talents and momentum to achieve optimal health and well-being for all residents of Pinellas County.
The Pinellas County Nonprofit Assessment, undertaken in late 2017 with our Strategic Partner the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay, was an important data-gathering initiative. It will help guide Foundation investments in training and other capacity-building efforts in the nonprofit sector.
As part of our capacity-building strategy, the Foundation funds a wide range of research and data collection and dissemination, aimed at fostering a clearer understanding of our county. In 2018 these will include publication and analysis of a County Health Needs Assessment; a scan of health policy initiatives; and a study of charity care access and usage in Pinellas County. Foundation research will be used to impel social innovation, make the best possible use of available assets, and apply the best and latest available thinking and research to local conditions. Foundation research will also support policy advocacy.
Strategic Communications & Engagement
Community engagement and open, clear, consistent communications are core values of the Foundation and a vital part of our work. We believe that done effectively, our strategic engagement and communications activities create a healthier and more cohesive community and break down the civic, economic and social barriers that impede the capacity of community members to exercise their agency.
To this end, the Foundation has launched long-term conversations, such as Beyond Diversity: Courageous Conversations about Race, across all sectors to focus on systemic, historic and institutional racism and its consequences for our community’s health and well-being.
We host leading thinkers and speakers via our Speakers Who Inspire series to bring a lens of health equity to all major Foundation priorities, such as housing, education, food & nutrition and inclusive economic prosperity. Our goal is to expand community knowledge and aptitude about benchmarks for optimal health and raise awareness about excellent programs and initiatives that model best practices.
We bring awareness to challenges and opportunities through provocative campaigns, inform and advocate for grassroots change, identify policy barriers or impediments to health and propose or seek policy solutions. We use strategic communications and active community engagement to link partners and to establish and maintain meaningful relationships with nonprofits, corporations, governments, academic institutions, faith-based organizations and community groups. Transparent, open, and truthful communications and open availability of Foundation staff to the community are core responsibilities and values.
Finally, we gather stakeholders together on a regular basis to learn, share information, research and data, and bring community wisdom to bear on our problems and opportunities.
The Foundation’s advocacy efforts are in the early stages and thus far cluster in two main bodies of work. The first flows from our data collection efforts. As we research and disseminate information about the assets and circumstances of our county—its people, sectors and organizations, assets, resources and challenges—we are empowered as a community to come together around policy positions that are evidence-based and in their best interests.
Advocacy efforts will also include health equity-inspired policy research and data collection; raising awareness, communications and media work; presentations and briefings; social marketing; public education, community organization and mobilization; communication with elected officials; and regulatory advocacy.