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Build Back Better

We believe that we can and must build back our safety net systems to be better than they were before COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken our communities, our workplaces, and our families. The pandemic is laying bare the historic disinvestment in public health and social safety net systems as well as the stark inequities in our society. Our safety net sector is experiencing a uniquely stressful moment as demand for safety net services skyrockets, while long-term funding for these critical resources remains at risk. As we continue through these times of uncertainty, we are all anxious to return to the normal life we knew before.

Yet, at HealthSpark we wonder- is this the push we need to create a better normal? As we pick up the pieces of our economy, our service sector, our homes and workplaces and schools, is there an opportunity to rethink the bigger picture?

It’s with this new vision in mind that HealthSpark is launching Build Back Better. Build Back Better is a cross-sector effort to rethink how our safety net system can and should function. Building off HealthSpark's last three years strengthening the safety net system through our Resiliency Initiative, we hope to engage a broad group of partners to think boldly about what true recovery and reconstruction means for our communities, our workplaces, our places of worship, our schools, and our safety net system.

Together, we believe we can build back better than ever before. For more on our thinking, read our case for change or our recent blog posts (here and here) on how our effort is evolving.

Build Back Better Timeline

We are rolling out Build Back Better in three phases- scroll down to learn more about each phase and how to get involved. As we move into August, we are now in Phase 3 of our timeline- sharing our recommendations with community partners through a series of online events, and preparing presentations and reports.

Phase 1: Learn & Discover

In this phase, we sought to document the ongoing experiences of the safety net sector during the pandemic. What are the challenges in responding? What opportunities have arisen? What would you want to do differently? We captured these early experiences in our Build Back Better Community Survey, for which we received over 60 responses from local nonprofits. A summary of the survey results is available here.

Phase 2: Design & Plan

In this phase, over 40 community partners served on a Design Team to review and analyze our community and survey data, and to develop a set of guiding principles and recommendations for our community and Foundation moving forward. We engaged people from all sectors- nonprofit, government, faith, business- and from all industries- food, housing, health, legal, policy- to provide a diversity of thought and experience. The Design Teams met virtually over five planning sessions, concluding in late July. Learn more about the Build Back Better Design Teams and participants.

Phase 3: Share & Act

In this final phase, we have scheduled a series of online events to share the Design Team's recommendations for action with the community. Our hope is that the recommendations will include concrete action steps for the Foundation  as well as recommendations that our community partners in government, businesses, and other industries will incorporate into their own reconstruction and recovery efforts. 

HealthSpark intends to align its grant funding in late summer with the Design Team’s recommendations. We will also seek to add value through our supporting channels created through the Resiliency Initiative, such as through commissioned research projects, advocacy efforts, and leadership and staff training. Learn more about our strategies for strengthening the safety net.

Stay Informed and Engaged

As we move forward, we'll be sharing our learnings with the community in a variety of ways- blog posts, virtual convenings, white papers, and other means. The best way to stay informed and up to date is through our newsletter- sign up here.