March 20, 2019

Horizon Foundation Announces Inaugural Equity Grantees

Five Community Groups Launch Year of Training, Goal-Setting, Planning to Address Racial Equity

The Horizon Foundation has announced five inaugural racial equity grantees receiving a total of $306,000 along with intensive training, coaching and organizational development as part of an initiative to address health disparities affecting communities of color in Howard County. The grantees are: African American Community Roundtable, Association of Community Services of Howard County, Equity4HC, HopeWorks of Howard County and Howard County Chinese School.

As part of their grants, the five organizations will participate in a “racial equity collaborative” designed to increase their capacity to apply a racial equity and systems lens to their work; organize and advocate for change to make the Howard County community more equitable; and build stronger external and internal coalitions and partners. The organizations will spend this year participating in joint trainings on topics including policies and structures that create disparities, community organizing and advocacy, data collection and disaggregation and conducting organizational racial equity assessments. Executive leaders from each of the organizations also will work with national and local experts to set goals, plan actions and strengthen their organizations’ ability to advance systemic changes. Grant funds support each organization’s capacity to sustain ongoing engagement in the collaborative.

“Our Foundation is focused on helping everyone have the opportunity to live a long and healthy life, and to achieve this vision, we must purposefully address the barriers facing our communities of color,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO of the Horizon Foundation. “We are proud and honored to work with these grantees as partners and community leaders who are stepping up to tackle these challenges and advocate for lasting change.”

Research shows that people of color experience disproportionate levels of disease, deaths and disabilities. For example, chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease disproportionately affect more Black residents than those of other races; the rate of contemplating suicide is higher for Latina youth; and documented advance directives are rarer for people of color. The Horizon Foundation defines health equity as the ability of people to live long and healthy lives, regardless of who they are and where they live. Equity is one of the three priority areas outlined in the Foundation’s current five-year strategic plan.

The 2019 equity grantees are:

  • African American Community Roundtable (AACR)
    The AACR is a coalition of local churches, sororities, fraternities and civic organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life for African Americans in Howard County. Founded in 2012, the AACR has worked to educate and empower the local African American community to address inequities in education, health economic development and social justice. Past efforts have tackled issues including a lack of diversity in the school system administration and staff, bullying and health disparities. Recognizing that education is key to the success of children’s futures, the group aims to focus efforts on eliminating systemic disparities in academic achievement in the public school system.
  • Association of Community Services of Howard County (ACS)
    For 55 years, ACS has advocated, educated and connected Howard County’s nonprofit and human services communities. With more than 145 member organizations and community advocates, ACS is well-positioned to convene partners to advocate for policy changes that reduce barriers and create opportunities for equity. In May 2018, ACS convened the Housing Affordability Coalition, which aims to increase the availability of affordable, accessible housing in the county – an issue that disproportionately impacts African American and Latino households in the county.
  • Equity4HC
    Equity4HC‘s mission is to assist students in achieving an education in preparation for a full and prosperous adult life. This new organization works with youth in the Howard County Public School System, supporting students and educators to create healthy education climates for students. Equity4HC aims to address policies and practices affecting African American youth, particularly male students, in the education system.
  • HopeWorks of Howard County
    HopeWorks’ mission is to prevent sexual and intimate partner violence. For three years, the organization has been addressing institutional equity issues in its work, through the recognition that racial, economic and gender injustices often drive the violence found in families and communities. By examining and addressing these underlying injustices, HopeWorks seeks to make a lasting impact in preventing and reducing this violence.
  • Howard County Chinese School (HCCS)
    For more than 20 years, HCCS has served the Howard County community and currently has more than 2,000 registered students. As a hub for local Chinese residents, the organization is working to engage Howard County’s Asian Americans, who make up nearly 20 percent of the population, to address health disparities affecting Asian communities.

Howard County community members interested in engaging in racial equity work will have opportunities to participate in learning sessions with the grantees over the course of the year through webinars and in-person events.

The Foundation launched its equity initiative in 2018 with a series of Introduction to Racial Equity workshops and an Equity Summit attended by more than 500 people. The Summit featured a keynote address from award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates.