The Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds is an exciting funding opportunity focused on improving community health and advancing health equity in Massachusetts. 

Equity Focus

Health equity means everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. To achieve this, we must remove obstacles to health — such as poverty, discrimination, and deep power imbalances. We must also remove their consequences, including lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.[1] The Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds are explicitly focused on addressing the root causes of inequity. Click here for more information on health and racial equity. 

Funding Opportunities

Three funding opportunities make up the Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds. Click each to learn more:

Funding Preference

Funding Preference 

Massachusetts-based non-profit 501(c)3 organizations and coalitions, municipalities, or quasi-governmental organizations (ex. Regional Planning Agencies) are eligible to submit ideas for funding to the Massachusetts Community Health & Healthy Aging Funds. Priority is given to activities that benefit communities who have not historically and routinely benefitted from previous local Determination of Need (DoN) funding and have high rates of health inequities. Please see below for funding preference within specific grantmaking cycles.  

Cycle 1 – 2020Cycle 2 – 2022
For this round of funding:
  • Priority for CHIP and PSE funding was given to communities that:
    • are outside of Boston; and
    • Have not historically and routinely benefited from previous local Determination of Need (DoN) community health funding; and
    • Have high rates of health inequities.
  • Preference for Healthy Aging funding was given to activities that benefit communities that:
For this round of funding, the same priorities remained and additional preference was given to activities that benefit:
  • Community-based organizations where staff and leadership are representative of the populations they serve
  • Populations not widely represented in the current awardee cohort, including:
  • Groups disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and including
    • Groups disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and including Black, Latinx, Asian, and Tribal/Indigenous populations, people for whom English is not their first language, people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and people with mental illness and/or substance use disorder
    • Groups located in and serving Barnstable (Cape and Islands), Norfolk, Plymouth, and Bristol Counties, the Merrimack Valley, and southern Worcester County
    • Groups addressing Social Determinant of Health (SDoH) areas of Education, Employment, and Violence/Trauma

Funding Goals

The Funds’ strategy is based on a model that connects health outcomes to the root causes of those health outcomes. See the Health Tree model below.

Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds awardees focus their initiatives on the root causes of health and social determinants of health to create a sustainable impact on health outcomes

The Health Tree: Connecting Health Outcomes to Root Causes

The tree below shows the relationship between health outcomes and the root causes of health.

From top to bottom: Health Outcomes, Health Behaviors(Tree Leaves), Social Determinants of Health(Tree Branches), Root Causes of Health( Tree Trunk), Underlying Systems of Dominant Culture(Tree Roots) and Narratives(soil)
The Health Tree is adapted by Health Resources in Action from the Human Impact Partners

LEAVES – The leaves of the tree represent health outcomes. These include the physical and mental health of individuals and populations. Historically, the Funds have focused on four health outcomes:

  • Chronic disease with a focus on cancer, heart disease and diabetes 
  • Housing stability/homelessness 
  • Mental illness and mental health 
  • Substance use disorders 

BRANCHES Health behaviors such as diet and exercise influence one’s risk of poor health outcomes. While individuals can make lifestyle changes to improve their health, it’s important to consider the factors that influence their ability to engage in healthy behaviors.

TREE TRUNK – Certain conditions influence people’s ability to engage in health behaviors.Social determinants of health (SDOH) such as education, employment, and housing are the environmental conditions in which people live, learn, work, play, worship, and age. These conditions affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Historically, the Funds have focus on six common social determinants of health: 

  • Built environment – encompasses the physical parts of where we live, work, travel and play, including transportation, buildings, streets, and open spaces.
  • Social environment – consists of a community’s social conditions and cultural dynamics.
  • Housing – includes the development and maintenance of safe, quality, affordable living accommodations for all people.
  • Violence and trauma – the use of force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, with the behavior likely to cause harm.
  • Employment – the availability of safe, stable, quality, well-compensated work for all people.
  • Education – refers to a person’s educational attainment – the years or level of overall schooling a person has.

For more information on these social determinants of health, click here. For the full version of the document, click here.

TREE ROOTS – When we think about making lasting changes in the social determinants of health, we need to think about what created these conditions in the first place. What are the policies and systems involved? The tree graphic highlights some of these root causes of health, including racism, poverty, ageism, and structural and institutional barriers.

SOIL – The underlying systems of dominant culture and narratives are represented by the soil in which the tree stands. Healthy soil means healthy roots, trunk, branches, and leaves. Dominant culture is “the culture that has been able, through economic, social, or political power, to impose its values, language, and ways of behaving on other cultures” (Integrative Inquiry). Like the soil surrounding the root system, white supremacy culture can often be nearly invisible given its position as “normal.”

[1] Human Impact Partners, Healthy Equity Guide