Universal to Invest in Health Justice Organizing and Capacity

We’re excited to share that Universal currently has two grant opportunities open!

Universal shifts strategic focus to building power for health justice

Health justice exists when everyone is able to achieve their best health. Health can be influenced by a range of factors – racism, housing status, neighborhood, zip code, employment status, immigration status, living with a disability or chronic illness, education, sexuality, gender identity, and more – not only access to quality affordable, equitable health care. Addressing these other factors helps to build power and bring about health justice.

Our power building focus is to support a cross-issue community organizing infrastructure of Connecticut-based organizations. Organizing is an essential component of the infrastructure needed to build power for people most affected by structural inequities. 

Organizing, by its very nature, is directly accountable to the community and it builds pathways to power for people most impacted by the existing system. Organizing, therefore, is a tool and perspective that grounds power building approaches.

For Universal, those particularly impacted include Black, Indigenous and people of color, LGBTQIA+, immigrants, low-income folks, and people living with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses. 

Our path here

We have listened and learned through our 2022 Organizing a Path to Power process with 18 grassroots groups and advocacy organizations.  We are grateful for the time, thought, talent, and expertise shared by our partners.

That process yielded six important recommendations from the field:

  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 between organizations, groups, philanthropy, and partners
  4. Support the leadership pipeline for organizers and create an infrastructure that recognizes them as professionals and people
  5. Provide long-term funding
  6. Build support for organizing and its importance within philanthropy

These recommendations were critical to creating informed grant programs that support organizing communities to build power for health justice.

Universal plans to implement some of these recommendations immediately and support the fight for health justice by:

  • Supporting organizing partners with unrestricted operating grants (Building Power Grants, see more below)
  • Supporting organizing partners in their capacity bridging efforts, defined as those efforts that are identified by partners as necessary capacity to accomplish their goals (Capacity Bridging Fund, see more below)
  • Staying in relationship with Black, Brown, and immigrant-led organizations by being part of their coalitions and campaigns

It’s not just about the what – the grants – but also the how – the process. Universal has adopted new ways of grantmaking emerging in philanthropy as more equitable. We plan to build our grantmaking on authentic relationships with our partners.

Building Power Grants

The Building Power Grants will support grassroots organizing groups and organizations with unrestricted operating grants with an annual commitment to a cohort of groups who work at the intersection of health justice.

Would you like to discuss funding with us? Interested grassroots groups working at the intersection of health justice are encouraged to fill out a Request to Discuss Funding re: Power Building Grants by October 31, 2022 at 11:59pm. This is a simple form and can be done in 10-15 minutes, max.

Capacity Bridging Fund

Universal defines capacity bridging as different from capacity building. Capacity building often focuses on the perceived deficits of an organization or group and can be limited to specific training or activities. 

Capacity bridging honors the strengths organizations and groups bring to their work and helps to resource organizations and groups with supports they identify as necessary to achieve their goals.

Capacity bridging could be a range of activities, such as:

  • Hiring a facilitator for a staff retreat
  • Buying a new laptop for a staff member
  • Getting help for grant writing and/or fund development
  • Supporting staff development with trainings
  • Or anything else that would help health justice organizations meet their goals

Would you like to discuss funding with us? Interested groups working at the intersection of health justice are encouraged to fill out a Request to Discuss Funding re: Capacity Bridging Fund – while this opportunity is open until the fund is expended, we encourage groups to fill out the form as soon as possible. Again, this is a simple form that can be filled out in 10-15 minutes.

Want to learn more about our grant programs?

Feel free to reach out to Rose Ferraro at [email protected] or Rabera at [email protected]