Eight Focus Areas

A STARTING POINT 
FOR OUR WORK

When the Health Fund was founded, the Michigan legislature laid out eight key issues to help guide our work. In addition to our focus on children and older people, these eight areas underpin our mission and strategic planning. Some correspond directly to a major grant program, while others are woven throughout our grantmaking. Our Community Health Impact program often prioritizes a specific issue for an annual cycle. Be sure to review specific grant opportunities and RFPs to learn more about how we’re funding these issues.

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Access to Healthy Food

Lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, and childhood obesity are major concerns in communities throughout Michigan and across the United States. Research shows obese children are more likely to be at risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, depression, and other health problems. The Health Fund supports systemic approaches to healthy food access; food-as-medicine programs; nutrition education and promotion in schools, daycare centers, or early childhood care centers; evidence-based mother and infant nutrition; and collaborative projects to improve food access in a community.

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Behavioral Health Services

Behavioral health is key to overall wellness, but too many Michigan residents go without this critical care. Our recently commissioned Behavioral Health Access Study found that 38% of Michigan residents with mental illness and 80% of those with substance use disorder go untreated. The Health Fund supports efforts to increase access to care, with an emphasis on behavioral health workforce expansion, integrated care, and use of technology. Examples include using telemedicine to extend the reach of the behavioral health workforce; expanding school-based behavioral healthcare; and integrating primary care and behavioral healthcare delivery.

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Foodborne Illness Prevention

Preventable foodborne illnesses continue to sicken thousands of people daily and severely affect children, elderly and sick individuals. The Health Fund seeks proposals aimed at public education on the risks of foodborne illness and reducing the incidence of foodborne illnesses, particularly among these vulnerable populations.

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Health-Related Transportation Services

Getting to the doctor can be a major hurdle for older adults, people with disabilities, and families with limited transportation options. In Michigan, a tapestry of funding sources and providers attempt to meet this need, but too many still go without care for lack of transportation. The Health Fund supports health-related transportation solutions that improve local or regional health transportation systems, connect transit and healthcare providers, and engage users in program design and oversight.

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Health Services for Foster and Adopted Children

Foster and adopted children often face significant health challenges, many times rooted in their complex trauma histories and compounded by poor access to appropriate medical, mental, and oral healthcare. A 2016 study in the journal Pediatrics found that children in foster care were twice as likely as others to have learning disabilities and developmental delays, five times as likely to have anxiety, six times as likely to have behavioral problems, and seven times as likely to have depression. The Health Fund supports efforts to improve access to high quality, coordinated health services and supports for foster and adopted children, including a full health evaluation and trauma assessment when they enter foster care.

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Infant Mortality

Michigan faces one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation. The Health Fund supports projects aligned with the State of Michigan’s 2020-2023 Mother Infant Health & Equity Improvement Plan. We prioritize cross-organizational and collaborative approaches supporting full-term, healthy-weight babies; infants safely sleeping; and mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being

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Technology Enhancements

Technology plays a growing role in delivering healthcare, but it’s not a panacea. The Health Fund invests in technology-based projects with the potential for system-wide improvement; collaborative efforts that account for the needs of those who will use the technology; and the adoption of new technologies such as remote monitoring tools, telehealth, enhancements to health information exchange, and other technology innovations.

 

Read our report Health Technology in Michigan: Findings and Lessons from our Investments Since 2015 [PDF]

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Wellness and Fitness

Many chronic diseases can be prevented by improving wellness and engaging in physical activity. The Health Fund supports evidence-based fitness and wellness programs targeted at children and older adults with the potential to inspire lasting behavior and culture change. Priorities include physical activity initiatives like adaptive sports; initiatives that emphasize physical activity and reduce screen time in early care and education settings; and efforts to coordinate and promote existing community assets for physical activity.

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