December 20, 2023

December newsletter: A note from Nikki

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A note from Nikki: Reflecting on our year of strategic planning

To our Howard County family,

It has been a challenging but inspiring year. As many of you know, the Horizon Foundation has spent the better part of the last 14 months engaged in deep listening with our community, learning about the challenges faced by residents – particularly those from communities of color – in living a long, healthy life. It was an eye-opening and humbling experience to hear from so many of you about these barriers, and how the Foundation can help break them down. (You can read more about what we learned here.) I am grateful to each of you who took the time to work with us this year so we could craft a new strategic plan that is ambitious, responsive to the needs of our community and ultimately centered in equity and anti-racism.

The new year will bring a lot of changes for the Foundation – a new strategic plan with new areas of focus, a new approach to our grantmaking, new partnerships and even a new look and feel to the Foundation’s brand and website. We are excited to reveal all of this in the coming weeks. We will have opportunities for organizations and residents to learn more about our new direction, ask questions and continue to co-create our future work.

Though we are excited to look forward, I am also proud of all the work that has gotten us to this point. As we detailed in this report earlier this year, we have achieved some incredible wins that have moved the needle toward a healthier Howard County for all. Together with our partners, we helped improve opportunities for residents to bike and walk, drove a significant drop in soda sales, improved access to mental health services and reduced stigma around supporting others with mental health struggles, increased the number of residents who have named a health care agent and completed an advance directive and helped pass equity-driven public policies. It has been an honor to work on all these issues with our grantees and partners. As we close this chapter of the Foundation’s history, I am deeply grateful to all of you who have worked with us along the way.

Though we are beginning a new direction, our drive is still the same – to ensure that all people in Howard County can live long, healthy lives. We can’t wait to share the full strategic plan with you in January and embark on a new journey together. I am energized for all that is to come. But for now, we wish all of you and your loved ones a happy, restful and healthy holiday season.

With gratitude,

Nikki Highsmith Vernick
President & CEO, Horizon Foundation



Also coming in the new year…

…the return of Changemaker Challenge! Applications will open in January to participate in this “Shark Tank for social change” competition. More to come soon!