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Healthcare Georgia Delivers Impact Through Award-Winning 5-Year Rural Health Initiative
Atlanta, GA – May 1, 2023– Healthcare Georgia Foundation launched the Two Georgias Initiative with a bold vision: to create a durable model for addressing the vast health inequities that plague rural communities.
Now, with the release of a comprehensive primer and video series, the Foundation is offering an inside look at the pioneering initiative, which offers a roadmap for philanthropy, government, and public health organizations to help improve health, healthcare access, and quality of life in rural communities.
Launched in 2017, the Two Georgias Initiative aimed to address the deep divide between urban centers and rural communities when it comes to health-focused resources and information such as access to health providers, nutritious foods, transportation options, and emerging tele-health tools.
The Initiative responded to these gaps by focusing on improving health and healthcare systems; addressing health disparities; providing equity training; and building community, organizational, and individual leadership capacity across 11 participating rural communities. Each community’s efforts were led by local coalitions that brought together community organizations who set priorities and carried out the work on the ground.
“The Two Georgias Initiative empowered rural communities to identify their most pressing needs and then provided robust support and resources to help them develop sustainable solutions,” said Healthcare Georgia Foundation President Kristy Klein Davis. “The innovation and collaboration that emerged in these communities was remarkable.”
The flexibility of the funding led to a range of projects and programming. The coalitions launched mobile health units, built playgrounds, established walking trails and exercise paths, planted community gardens, and expanded mental health and addiction services. One community created “little libraries” in three local hair salons. Another formed a local chapter of Prevent T2, a free diabetes prevention program focused on nutrition and lifestyle change. A third supported creation of a dental clinic open to all without insurance.
As COVID-19 emerged in 2020, coalitions led efforts to promote testing and vaccinations. They also prioritized food security issues by establishing or expanding food banks, delivering food to children and the elderly in need, and partnering with farmers to launch gleaning efforts.
Philanthropy Southeast, a membership association that supports foundations in the American South, recently honored Healthcare Georgia Foundation with its 2022 Truist Promise Award, which recognizes innovative initiatives and strategies that tackle significant and systemic issues.
“What Healthcare Georgia Foundation achieved through the Two Georgias Initiative has real potential to serve as a model approach to rural health and wellness, not only in Georgia and the South, but across the country,” said Janine Lee, Philanthropy Southeast’s President and CEO. “The approach they took empowered local people to identify and leverage their untapped potential to bring about real and lasting change to improve health outcomes and overall quality of life.”
Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s $10 million commitment to the Initiative marked the single biggest investment ever undertaken by the Atlanta-based foundation. While the formal program concluded in 2021, the Foundation continues to find opportunities to advance health equity across rural Georgia.
“Your ZIP code shouldn’t be the primary factor in determining your physical, mental, emotional health and overall quality of life, but that is the reality for many rural communities across our state and country,” said Lisa Medellin, Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s director of programs. “The Two Georgias Initiative tackled that challenge head on to use place-based philanthropy to support grassroot change and center equity, while also prioritizing what philanthropy can leave behind to sustain progress and create a more equitable Georgia.”
About Healthcare Georgia Foundation
Healthcare Georgia Foundation is an independent nonprofit committed to creating a healthier, more equitable Georgia through the advancement of bold ideas and community-based partnerships.