Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation

OVERVIEW: This corporate health insurance funder supports the New England states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine. Top interests are access to healthy food and reduction of health inequities.

FUNDING AREAS: Access to healthy food, reducing health disparities, transgender health

IP TAKE: Now is a good time to approach this funder with an idea for improving transgender health care in Boston, especially regarding physician awareness, education, and compassion.

PROFILE: The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation (HPHCF) is the grantmaking arm of the health insurance company of the same name. The Harvard Pilgrim Health Company is a nonprofit health services company that offers health benefit plans, programs, and services to over 3 million customers in the New England states of the U.S. This foundation is based in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and was founded in 1980.

This funder has a four-state focus: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine. Grantmaking interests are providing access to fresh and healthy food and reducing health disparities that affect diverse populations. The Harvard Pilgrim Healthy Food Fund is a grant and leadership initiative to make fresh, healthy, and local food more accessible and affordable for low- and mid-income families. Grants go to groups that provide healthy cooking classes for youth and that expand access to farmers’ markets, community gardens, food banks, and urban farms.

HPHCF’s health equity program seeks to ensure that area residents have access to quality health care. In the spirit of health equity, HPHCF has lately been interested in transgender health. It hosted roundtable discussions in Boston, for example, to get feedback from local individuals who identify as “trans” or “gender queer” regarding their experiences in the medical care and health insurance industries.

A previous HPHCF initiative focused on childhood obesity in kids six to 12 years old. They invested over $9 million in the initiative.

Since HPHCF has been established, it has given out over $145 million to nonprofits. In a recent year, it gave more than $2.3 million to more than 900 organizations in over 300 communities. Massachusetts nonprofits tend to see more grants than groups in the other three states throughout the year. Boston grantees include the Boys & Girls Clubs in Boston for a farm-to-family program, City Year for service activities at Joseph Lee K-8 School, and other community organizations.

One notable aspect of HPHCF’s grantmaking is its mini-grants program. Through this program, company employees can award $500 grants to a charity of their choice that is fully funded by the foundation. This has been part of the funder’s giving strategy since 2002. In a recent year, 98 percent of Harvard Pilgrim employees participated in some form of giving, including the mini-grants program, service projects, community spirit awards, or the employee fundraising campaign.

The foundation does not provide a clear way to apply for a grant on its website, nor does it supply any online application forms. Get in touch at foundation@harvardpilgrim.org or (617) 509-9414. The address is 93 Worcester Street, Wellesley, Massachusetts 02481.

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