Our Focus is on Building Power

Universal’s 5-year strategic priority is to build power for health justice. Racial justice is core to our work, as the inequities in health and health care are rooted in a deep history of racism. The voices and perspectives of BIPOC folks and BIPOC-led organizations are pivotal to building a path to justice.

This struggle for health justice is linked with work on social and economic justice – as health cannot be sustained without decent housing, healthy food, nurturing communities, good jobs that pay living wages, a clean environment, and opportunities to thrive.

We are committed to building partnerships with diverse organizations engaged in organizing for justice, as we believe that the key to making change is to build sustained power. Power can break the hold that self-serving interests have on our lawmakers and build a path to equity.

How Did We Get Here?

Universal, embarked on an 8-month collaborative learning journey with 18 organizations to unpack what it takes to build power and community infrastructure to advance racial and economic equity, and justice across multiple issue areas affecting health in Connecticut.

Grassroots community organizations, other funding partners, advocates and allies convened and articulated their recommendations around what it would take to build power for health justice:

  1. Center and support community organizing
  2. Define what it means to build sustainable pathways to power for people most affected by structural injustice
  3. Create the opportunities and infrastructure for trust
  4. Support the leadership pipeline for organizers and create an infrastructure that recognizes them as professionals and as people
  5. Provide long-term funding
  6. Build support for organizing and its importance with others in philanthropy

These recommendations represent a collective and representative voice of organizers and advocates on the ground who offered them as foundational components to creating an infrastructure that can support power-building in communities.

Our Grantmaking Philosophy

Universal’s grantmaking philosophy is guided by the belief that strong organizing infrastructure begets strong movements for justice that lead to transformational change.

We believe that:

  • Communities that are most affected by racial, social, and economic oppression are best positioned to identify effective priorities and strategies for transformative social change in their communities
  • No one actor or organization can single-handedly create lasting change – change comes from powerful collective action by a group of people working together
  • Organizations committed to addressing oppressions at their various intersections, and demonstrate commitment to racial, economic, and social justice help build transformative movements for change

Current Open Grant Opportunities