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4 local groups will receive Humana Foundation grants to advance health equity

Tiffany Benjamin - photo
Humana
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Newly named Humana Foudation CEO Tiffany Benjamin is excited to focus on health equity in her new role.

Louisville-based Humana Foundation is distributing more than $13 million in grants nationwide to organizations committed to health equity, that includes four local groups and money to launch a program called the Health Equity Innovation Fund.

Monday’s announcement from Humana’s philanthropic division marked the first round of funding focused on the foundation’s new priority of improving health care equity and access. 

Tiffany Benjamin, the foundation’s CEO, said they’ve focused on health equity over the years, but the pandemic solidified the need to have that take precedence.

“It really makes sense for us to focus on how we can impact health in communities,” she told WFPL News. “So the foundation decided that what we would do is make sure that everyone could have access to ways that they could live their healthiest lives and have their healthiest days.”

For Benjamin, the refocus involves examining systems and understanding how the foundation can “impact things around the social determinants of health, whether that's based on where you live or the food options you have… really anything that's impacting your ability to get access to health care.” 

More than $500,000 of that money is staying close by. 

Grantee Alzheimer’s Association of Louisville and Southern Indiana will receive $250,000 to address senior isolation, according to a news release. The Community Foundation of Louisville will get $100,000, LaCasita Center is receiving a $75,000 grant, and the Community Safety and Healthy Fund of Louisville has been awarded $50,000.

Benjamin said mental health and emotional connection have been top of mind as foundation staff discussed equitable access to care, in particular when it comes to seniors, young people and veterans. In this round of grants, the Humana Foundation wanted to use the funds to boost nonprofits already focused on this kind of work.

In the case of LaCasita Center, Benjamin said the grant will help the organization expand its mental health services to youth and elder populations. 

The Community Safety and Healthy Fund of Louisville receives the infusion of cash to address issues of trauma, particularly among young people. 

“We have talked to them about whether there are ways that we can focus on healing as a community, look at trauma, see if there are things we can do to support young people who are really struggling right now to move them into places where they can really focus on their own mental well being,” she said.

The Community Foundation of Louisville will partner on an initiative to increase access to care and resources that centers “emotional well-being and social connectedness,” Benjamin continued.

And the Alzheimer’s Association of Louisville and Southern Indiana grant will help expand mental health services for seniors.

But Benjamin said it’s not just about expansion. The funds are meant to also help ensure the association is “doing things that are culturally competent, so they can impact Black and Brown communities as well.”

This funding cycle also features the launch of the foundation’s $7.5 million Health Equity Innovation Fund. It was established to support nonprofits that have creative ideas to tackle issues like nutrition, food insecurity and access, loneliness, and mental health care, but might  lack the capital to take a risk on an untested project. 

“What we want to do is drive energy around creativity, and really letting nonprofits utilize the information they get from their community partners and the people they serve, and trying out solutions,” she said.

Benjamin stressed that the innovation fund is open to all kinds of nonprofits and organizations around the country.

Stephanie Wolf is LPM's Arts & Culture Reporter. Email Stephanie at swolf@lpm.org.