The beginning of winter is always a time of introspection for me. Daylight wanes, the garden beds are tucked to bed, the social calendar lightens, and time and space for reflection opens up. Those of us in nonprofits are also often preoccupied with end-of-year activities that facilitate reflection, like grant reports, annual planning, and performance reviews. Not surprisingly then, I’ve recently been reflecting on all that Center for Health Progress accomplished in 2019.
Perhaps most notably, we’ve worked hard over the past year to develop radical clarity around our organizational identity and core beliefs. This work has been critical, because even though 2019 was our 22nd year as an organization, in many ways, we’ve transformed into a new organization over the past few years. We were founded in 1997 to ensure everyone had access to high quality, affordable health care. Today, we continue to pursue that goal; however, we’ve refocused our work on addressing the factors that promote or inhibit health, especially systems of oppression, such as racism or classism. We’re now clear that our primary aim is to fight for just systems and policies that foster health equity. We’re doing this by launching and winning local and statewide campaigns, especially those aimed at changing the health care system.
As Makani Themba says, “History teaches us that change is often made when an organized segment of those most affected, leading in solidarity with allies, disrupts business as usual.” Our work fundamentally relies on building a broad base of organized people aligned around common values, priorities, and demands that will be a significant force for change. We are reimagining the role of the health care system in achieving health equity; redefining what counts as health care; pushing for upstream investments that align with community need; creating advocacy pipelines into immigrant rights, housing, and other issues; and increasing the capacity of the health care system to take direction from community members.
This year’s accomplishments are rooted in this system of beliefs. In 2019, we increased our investment in grassroots organizing as the foundational work of our organization. We recently strengthened our organizing presence in Pueblo, with Theresa Trujillo and Yesenia Beascochea. We also hired Jose Carmona as our first Digital Organizer, and Perla Rodriguez as our new Fort Morgan Organizer. They join a dynamic organizing team with decades of collective organizing experience in Colorado. We also launched exciting new programs this year, which aim to build equity champions within health care systems and activate these champions around advocacy efforts that align with our campaigns goals. And of course, we continued to push a proactive legislative agenda at the Capitol and worked to frame health and health care issues in new and important ways.
This investment has paid off. Over the past year, we’ve grown our membership base by 25%. We’ve built a strong, responsive network of grassroots and grasstops leaders in Fort Morgan, Pueblo, and across the state who are leveraging their power and taking action around critical health equity issues, both at the local and state-level. We’ve developed deep partnerships with aligned organizations and supported critical collective wins. We’ve garnered new investments from national funders who believe in our model. And we’re just getting started. The movement for health equity is gaining momentum in Colorado. We’re grateful for your continued support and partnership and hope you see yourself in this movement. And, if you’re able, we hope you’ll join our efforts and be a part of even bigger change in 2020. Colorado Gives Day is December 10—schedule your contribution now!