Greater Rochester Health Foundation: Engaging Parents in Shaping a Foundation’s Strategy

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Greater Rochester Health Foundation: Engaging Parents in Shaping a Foundation’s Strategy


Redefine strategy for the foundation’s largest program to center equity. 


An equity-focused strategy and new ways of working that authentically engage community members.


When the Greater Rochester Health Foundation hired Community Wealth Partners, the foundation was committed to centering equity in its largest program, Healthy Futures, which works to improve the health and well-being of children ages 0-8 in the region. The foundation sought our assistance in developing a strategy for the program and engaging community members in shaping that strategy. Through the process and our research, they concluded that it was essential to center a racial equity lens. 

Together, we worked to make sure the people engaged in shaping the strategy represented the racial diversity of the community. We worked with local partners to help us connect with parents, community leaders, and young people. This was critical for being able to achieve authentic engagement with families in the community.  

Once we had communities engaged, we collected and disaggregated demographic data to get a deeper understanding of how perspectives varied by race, ethnicity, and neighborhood. When we noticed that parents serving on a steering committee that made recommendations to the foundation were quieter than other voices in that group, we organized participants based on role (parents, nonprofit leaders, foundation staff) so that parents could more openly share their perspectives.  The input parents gave helped the foundation more deeply understand how systemic racial equities impact the health of young children and how the foundation could more authentically engage parents in its work.  

We also supported the foundation in reflecting on how they want to center racial equity in their internal operations, grantmaking, and community engagement going forward by offering a framework for them to assess current practice and prioritize next steps. Throughout the engagement, the foundation made these questions a top priority and devoted significant staff time and resources to this work.  

Connecting with peers

to expand impact


Today the foundation has moved from centering parents in one program to integrating a parent-centered approach throughout the foundation’s culture, operations, and DNA. As Danette Campbell-Bell, Senior Program Officer, shared in a webinar, “The foundation is taking a back seat and allowing stakeholders to drive what we do.” 


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