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

Massachusetts-based non-profit 501(c)3 organizations and municipalities are eligible to submit ideas for funding to the Massachusetts Community Health & Healthy Aging Funds. See table below for additional information on funding preference and priority for the two funds.

Community Health FundHealthy Aging Fund
For this round of funding, priority will be given to activities that benefit communities outside of Boston that:
  • Have not historically and routinely benefited from previous local Determination of Need (DoN) community health funding; and
  • Have high rates of health inequities.
For this round of funding, preference will be given to activities that benefit communities that:

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 one or more of the six prioritized social determinants of health to create a sustainable impact on one or more of the four prioritized 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

Health Outcomes (Tree Leaves) – The leaves of the tree represent health outcomes. This funding opportunity focuses on the following health outcomes:

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

Health Behaviors (Tree 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 one’s ability to engage in healthy behaviors.

Social Determinants of Health (Tree Trunk) – Health is not influenced by behaviors alone. Key factors influence people’s ability to engage in healthy behaviors. These are called social determinants of health (SDOH), and they 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. The Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds will focus on six common social determinants of health, prioritized by the DPH Commissioner:

  • 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.

Root Causes of Health (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.

Underlying Systems of Dominant Culture & Narratives

[1] Human Impact Partners, Healthy Equity Guide