What it means to “Act Now”
When I joined Blue Shield of California Foundation just over a year ago, I was excited to use my skills and knowledge to help strengthen California’s healthcare safety net and improve access to high-quality care for the state’s most vulnerable populations. At the time, coverage in California was reaching its highest levels, and care transformation and innovation were starting to gain significant momentum — all fueled by the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I never could have imagined that one year later we would be facing the uncertainty that confronts us today.
And yet, here we are. Despite the tenuous political and social environment, the Foundation remains as dedicated as ever to walking in partnership with our grantees as we continue toward a safer, healthier, and more equitable California. In fact, it is because of the unknown challenges ahead, not in spite of them, that the Foundation recently made an important decision: to Act Now.
As soon as the new year began, our staff came together to identify the things that we urgently felt the need to defend, including the gains that have been made in expanding access to Medicaid, ongoing innovation and systems transformation, new cross-sector partnerships, and person- and community-centered approaches to address health and domestic violence across our state. Then, we hit the pavement and began talking to local leaders and organizations, working with other funders to align efforts, and gathering as much information as we could to try to protect the progress that has been achieved and prepare for new possibilities in the future. From there, we mapped out where our support was most critically needed and determined we could put our philanthropic dollars to their most impactful use within a quickly-changing landscape.
The crux of the Act Now Fund was, literally, to act NOW; faster than we have ever acted before. That doesn’t mean we diluted or diminished our thoughtfulness or took shortcuts in our processes. Rather, it meant that we decided to prioritize what was most critical, and let go of what wasn’t. We were deliberately open to working with new partners, as well as to working with existing partners in new ways. In short, the Act Now Fund offered us the opportunity to turn our core organizational values into rapid action.
Stepping away from our traditional grantmaking approach wasn’t easy. At times it felt a little hectic and pushed us to go beyond our comfort zone. However, throughout the process, we learned so much about the acute needs, realities, and capacity of our partners in the field. And perhaps most importantly, we were reminded about what matters most — the health, safety, and wellbeing of all Californians.
Sometimes, building the type of world in which we want to live means sticking to tried and true, time-tested approaches. Other times, it means being bold and nimble in unpredictable times. At the end of the day, it’s still about helping the people, families, and causes at the heart of our mission. However that gets done, I’m grateful for the opportunity to do my small part in making a difference, and I’m eager to see all that we can accomplish when we act together — and act now.
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