When categories fail–good health is about much more than “Health”

by Tamara Lucas Copeland, President, Washington Grantmakers


Your neighborhood, education, and income. Your race. Whether you rent or own. Even your perception of the control you have over your life. All of these factors directly affect your health and your life-expectancy.

Last week, the Health Working Group brought together forty funders and health officials to view segments of the PBS documentary Unnatural Causes and discuss this reality. We looked at a map of our region with various income levels (read: life expectancies) distributed across jurisdictions—and there were some surprises.

Funders remarked that helping residents of our region have healthy lives isn’t actually about “health.” Rather it is about all of the issues that you’re funding—community revitalization, social justice, education, capacity building, affordable housing, the arts… the list goes on.

The funders that gathered want to spark a significant, collaborative dialogue on the issues raised in the film, focusing on this metropolitan area, and we talked about some strategies for the short term. If you are interested in helping to move this conversation forward, I hope you will contact HWG Chair Pat Mathews.

My best,