On paper, the creation of the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York might look like a simple business transaction. In 2001, when health plans Univera and Excellus merged, the terms of the deal—as typically happens in deals involving nonprofit entities—included setting aside $100 million to create a foundation for the benefit of the community.
But the leaders who took up the charge of the new foundation’s work—executives and physicians who worked with the two original health plans—had a goal, a mission, and passion that went far beyond simple grantmaking.
The founders believed that the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York, as it was called then, should work to address the issues the founders had witnessed during their time delivering health care: social factors like poverty, lack of health coverage access, and other systemic challenges to good health.
In the years since, the Health Foundation’s approach and programmatic areas have evolved, but the core values of community collaboration and ‘beyond the check’ partnership have remained true.
Date Published: January 2, 2024