Group Health Foundation will shape and accelerate efforts to improve health equity and advance community aspirations for a vibrant, healthy future in Washington.
Our work is guided by these core values:
Equity. We are committed to fostering conditions where all people—especially those experiencing racial, social, economic, or political injustice—can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. We will deepen our shared understanding of equity and will insist on a wide range of perspectives to inform our ongoing exploration. We know that cultivating a diverse, inclusive team of board members, staff, and partners is an essential component of this work.
Learning. We believe in the virtues of being a learning organization—an organization that is open to ongoing discovery and dedicated to sharing knowledge from our successes and setbacks. We will ground our efforts in both community wisdom and research. We recognize that communities know what they need to improve health, and we will engage them in meaningful ways to prioritize, design, and support our collective approaches.
Partnership. We will co-create solutions with people and partners across the state—community groups, nonprofits, foundations, academic and research institutions, businesses, tribes, government agencies, and others. We will support and enhance, rather than duplicate or replace, what is working.
Commitment. Addressing health inequities will require a long-term perspective, and we are committed for the duration. We will embrace complexity and be diligent in our long-term planning and strategy development.
Courage. We aspire to be a force for good and unafraid of taking risks. We will pursue big goals that require bold, creative, and sometimes unconventional strategies.
Accountability. We are responsible to communities across the state. We are open to hearing difficult feedback. We will evaluate our efforts and impact, and be transparent about our progress and challenges.
Our evolving equity agreements
During our first 18 months as an organization, we have focused considerable energy on our leading values of equity and learning. The agreements below acknowledge those areas where we have shared understanding and collective agreement. As our work gets more complex, we will return to these agreements to ground our efforts. We intend to revise and expand these agreements over time.
- Equity is a journey—for us as individuals, for the organization as a whole, and toward well-being as defined by those impacted by inequity.
- We embrace equity and expect to be uncomfortable as we take this journey. We understand that the path will be challenging, inspiring, bumpy, imperfect, non-linear, and growth-filled.
- Equity is the presence of opportunities to develop one’s full potential. We take a strengths-based approach that recognizes the resilience and strengths of all people and communities, and endeavor to be restorative in how we do our work.
- Equity is not equality. Equity acknowledges that everyone is not starting from the same place. We understand the potential implications on our spending—that funding may be distributed differentially rather than “equally,” in a way that supports issues and communities where health disparities are notable.
- We will be more successful in achieving equity if communities are at the center of this work. We expect to inform our efforts through convening, listening, learning alongside community, incorporating feedback from constituents, and using data. We will share data with communities to learn if it resonates with their lived experiences. And, based on community assets, culture, and data, we will support communities to frame problems, solutions, and approaches.
- We will work to be mindful of power dynamics. As a funder, we recognize that we can intentionally or inadvertently influence certain conditions, both positively and negatively. We will be cognizant of our role and positioning, and strive to elevate the power and voices of our communities and partners. We will seek feedback about our efforts and take seriously what we hear.
- Equity’s journey is rooted in history and projected into the future. The Seven Generation Principle—standing in the present and looking three generations behind and three generations forward—reminds us of the need to acknowledge historical context, including historical trauma and oppression, and consider the conditions we hope to cultivate for future generations.
- We recognize the foundational role that racism plays in perpetuating inequity. Racism has been this nation’s burden since (and preceding) its inception, and it continues to permeate our institutions and interactions today. Further, too many people must endure the amplifying effects of multiple forms of oppression in their lives. Acknowledging racism’s role does not ignore the many other forms of oppression and bias. In advancing equity, we are dedicated to rooting out all forms of oppression and bias.
- We are committed to sharing our evolving equity frameworks, our progress, our mistakes and challenges, and the lessons we learn along the way.
Health equity and social determinants of health
Health equity is the absence of avoidable differences in health among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically. We understand that the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age affect their health and that these circumstances are shaped by the historical and present-day distribution of money, power, and resources. A characteristic common to groups that experience health inequities is lack of political, social, or economic power. Achieving health equity would mean that all Washingtonians have fair and equal opportunities to lead healthy, productive lives regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or where we live.
 We offer our appreciation to the Tribal and Urban Leadership Advisory Committee of the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State for sharing this articulation of The Seven Generation Principle.