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4 questions with Point32Health Foundation President Nora Moreno Cargie
Built on a tradition of service and giving at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan, Point32Health Foundation works with communities to support, advocate and advance healthier lives for everyone. The Foundation funds equity-focused solutions related to healthy aging, access to healthy food and behavioral health through collaboration with nonprofit organizations, understanding that those most affected by inequities are in the best position to define the problem, design appropriate solutions and measure success. Last year, the Foundation gave nearly $8 million to nonprofit organizations across the states we serve. Prior to combining to become Point32Health Foundation, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and Tufts Health Plan Foundation had invested more than $200 million to support community organizations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
To learn more about this work, we spoke with Point32Health Foundation President Nora Moreno Cargie:
Q: Recently, Point32Health Foundation awarded nearly $700K to organizations addressing homelessness in New England. Why is it so important to support organizations doing this work, and in what ways might these grant funds be used?
Nora Moreno Cargie: When you think about the issue of people experiencing homelessness, you first have to consider who is on the front line supporting that work and providing supportive services. Organizations need funding because the demand is increasing; for instance, during the pandemic we saw behavioral health and isolation issues emerge front and center. And while there are never enough resources available for those who need the help, our investments go to the heart of what is ailing our society.
Our approach to grantmaking is based on trust. Nonprofits tell us what they need support for. How grants will be used is going to be different and determined by the nonprofits themselves. Some might be expanding culturally sensitive services so people can access support in a native language; other organizations may be offering additional connections to other social services in the community. We feel that the community and the community-based organizations closest to the issues are best positioned to decide how those resources should be spent.
Q: Advancing health equity is a key initiative for both Point32Health and Point32Health Foundation, as it is for many nonprofit organizations in our communities. With so many organizations and initiatives in need of funding, what considerations are taken when determining which nonprofits receive grant funds?
NMC: The demand for funding is far greater than our ability to meet it, and so what we consider is very deliberate. We ask who’s most proximate to the work? Who is leading work for, by and about the community? Who is a trusted partner in the community? And who is addressing an issue in a way that is relevant and relates to the communities they’re trying to reach and to serve? During the pandemic, we saw that the systems don’t work for the people they were established to support. A priority for us is to be an anti-racist organization. We need to understand the context in which these programs were designed, to recognize the inequities that have existed historically and to think about how to change and dismantle those systems so that they’re more effective and efficient for the very people they want to address.
Q: In addition to your work with Point32Health Foundation, you also lead the corporate citizenship work for our organization. Could you share a little on why corporate citizenship is important and how it ties in with the Point32Health Foundation work?
NMC: I love this question because corporate citizenship is everything we do. It’s the products and services we provide, how we engage in community, our volunteerism, how we operate our business and how we think about sustainability issues. Corporate citizenship demonstrates, in action, how committed a company or organization is to community and its betterment. For communities to thrive, we need to be a part of the solution, and corporate citizenship really taps into the heart of what our colleagues want to do and be in community. How do we engage? How do we give? How do we participate in volunteering? It could be anything from giving money for those who have means to giving time—and that time can come in the form of board service or volunteering a couple of hours a week at a nonprofit. Corporate citizenship works in our company because it is a true reflection of what our colleagues want to do and be in the community—it is our culture of care in action.
In 2022, we were named to The Civic 50, which recognizes our organization as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States by Points of Light. I’m proud of the colleagues at our organization for contributing to this honor, and excited to see what’s to come this year with corporate citizenship.
Q: You’ve devoted your career to helping others. Do you have any advice for those interested in community advocacy?
NMC: Start with your passion. What do you care about? Tap into the difference you want to be and make in the world. Then look at how that passion aligns with the needs in your community—whether it’s your school community, your work community or your neighborhood. Then leverage your passion, in the place that’s nearest and dearest to you. Some folks might want to leverage their know-how, like an accountant lending their skills to a nonprofit. Some people want to stay as far away from their day job as possible, and so maybe what they really want to do is be outdoors or engage in another way that matters to them. When it comes down to it, just go to your heart’s desire. Go to that core and figure out how you want to engage. Figure out what you know, what needs you meet and then go for it.
Nora is energized by what’s next with Point32Health Foundation, including its new focus area on equity in aging. She shares that inequities accumulate over a lifetime, meaning people of color and those who face systemic barriers are more likely to experience health disparities. She is optimistic that the Foundation’s focus on equity in aging will support the important work to change inequitable systems and develop policies and practices that make our communities great places for everyone to grow up and grow old.
During 2022, Point32Health Foundation funded 110 new grants to community organizations to increase access to healthy foods, support healthy aging, promote behavioral health and advance social and racial justice: