We seek to help communities overcome the economic and social disadvantages that contribute to poor health so that all Americans have the chance to enjoy productive, self-determined lives.
The opportunity to pursue an education, achieve economic security and participate as a productive member of society depends on sound health. Health, in turn, is strongly influenced by the opportunities and conditions in the places people live. Too often, the deck is stacked against people in low-income neighborhoods. They are disproportionately affected by polluting industries, violence and inadequate housing. Their neighborhoods are underinvested.
Everyone should have access to resources that support health: things like safe, affordable housing and neighborhoods, fresh food and economic opportunities.
We believe the United States should shift its emphasis toward health by addressing conditions that affect not just individuals, but whole communities.
The U.S. spends nearly $3 trillion a year on health care, devoting an unsustainable level of resources to medical care and only the most limited funding to improving health at the community level.
Accordingly, we invest through these two focus areas:
- Developing Healthy Places
- Accelerating Community-Centered Approaches to Health
Developing Healthy Places
Improving community health requires programs and policies that ensure the places where people live, work, learn and recreate support good health. This holistic view includes everything from land use and transportation to public safety and local food systems as important contributors to good health.
Accelerating Community-Centered Approaches to Health
Achieving a healthier population requires allocating resources in ways that will improve the community conditions that shape health – the upstream contributors to health. Locally based, multisector collaborations play a key role in redirecting and expanding effective upstream interventions. We encourage health systems – hospitals and other organizations long focused on illness – to share resources and responsibilities with a broad range of community partners, particularly those representing communities facing significant barriers to health. We support strong leadership in public health and look for opportunities to promote wider adoption of programs, practices and policies that advance community health.
How We Work
We believe that community engagement and leadership are essential to sustainable efforts to build healthy communities. We know the challenges of improving health are best met through multisector or interdisciplinary approaches, understanding that many factors influence health and narrow efforts necessarily exclude valuable perspectives and leave core issues unaddressed.
We know that different tools are appropriate to various situations. We collaborate with the foundation’s Social Investment Practice to use loans and other forms of capital in situations where traditional grantmaking may be less appropriate or effective.
In all of our work, we look for efforts that:
- Include genuine community engagement and leadership.
- Link practitioners to objective evidence and science.
- Facilitate cross-sector partnerships and connections.
- Promote community-centered health systems.
- Direct resources to upstream solutions.
- Promote access to opportunities that can improve health.
- Employ effective communication strategies.
- Evaluate and disseminate the impact of health initiatives, programs and investments.
We award grants and make program-related investments. The latter may take the form of direct loans, guarantees that provide credit support to borrowers, or linked deposits. (Learn more about our Social Investment Practice.)
We accept and review inquiries for some grants on an ongoing basis. There is no deadline.
Other portions of our portfolio are developed through a time-limited, request-for-proposal-type process. We announce such grant opportunities in Program Updates and post information on the Apply for Funding page.
We invite organizations interested in learning about future grant opportunities to sign up for Kresge news alerts.
Who should apply?
- U.S. 501(c)(3) organizations with audited financial statements that are not classified as private foundations. Audits must be independently prepared following Generally Accepted Accounting Principles or Government Auditing Standards. Financial statements prepared on a cash, modified cash, compilation or review basis do not qualify.
- Government entities.
Who should not apply?
- Organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, sexual orientation or veteran status.
- Organizations that require membership in certain religions or advance a particular religious faith. (Faith-based organizations may be eligible if they welcome and serve all members of the community regardless of religious belief.)
- Programs operated to benefit for-profit organizations.
We rarely fund:
- Projects that are primarily focused on direct health or social services.
- Health education, promotion or counseling programs.
- Research projects.
Construction or renovation of facilities, including the acquisition of medical equipment, are ineligible for funding.
Please review the applicable focus area’s Web page and the application process it recommends.