Aetna Foundation: Grants for Diseases

OVERVIEW: The Aetna Foundation gives primarily to health-related causes, and the area of diseases is well-funded. The foundation uses its money to fight obesity--especially among children-- and a host of other diseases. It is especially focused on improving the health of minority groups, particularly African Americans, although Asian American and Latino causes also have received funding in the past.

IP TAKE: Aetna gives big to certain big organizations, but smaller community-based or nationwide initiatives still see significant funding.

PROFILE: The Aetna Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Fortune 500 health care company Aetna. Its mission is to “promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone, while supporting the communities we serve.” The foundation allocates its funds via two mechanisms — a national grant program and a regional, community grant program.

Aetna’s National Partnership initiative has three focus areas. The Healthy Eating and Active Living program currently prioritizes “connecting people of limited means with fresh fruits and vegetables through community gardens, urban farms and farmers markets.” The Health Care Equity program is working on “understanding connections between where people live and receive health care, and the quality and equity of the care they receive.” The Innovation in Underserved Communities program aims to “profoundly impact chronic disease management” by “putting today’s most effective tools to work to improve health care access, treatment and decision-making.”

Aetna’s Cultivating Healthy Communities initiative seeks to “catalyze measurable improvements in community health outcomes” in “underserved, low-income, and minority populations in the contiguous United States.” It prioritizes programs that address physical, mental, and social well-being in the following “domains”: Built Environment, Community Safety, Environmental Exposure, Healthy Behaviors, and Social/Economic Factors. Although the Foundation has a broad range of diseases it focuses on, it has given to specific causes year after year: kidney, heart, and lung disease. Even outside of the American Heart and American Lung Associations, Aetna gives to causes that support health in these areas.

Aetna’s national grants may range from $50,000 to $250,000, while its CHC grants generally fall between $25,000 and $50,000. Grantseekers may review Aetna’s Recent Grants to get a better idea of the kind of projects it supports. Aetna does not accept unsolicited proposals for its national partnerships, but it releases a Request for Proposals for its community grants each year.

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