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Convening for the Common Good

In some sense we’ve always been a convener. Even in the earliest days of the Foundation almost 20 years ago, when our strategy focused much more on basic grantmaking, we saw the value in bringing people together around common causes. But when we talk about being a convener now, we mean something much broader and more significant. In fact, it’s become an essential element of who we are.
Five women at a table having a discussion

For our work, we see convening as a vehicle for “connecting the dots,” including people, organizations, ideas, information, and resources to facilitate change at the systems level. It’s an essential changemaking tool that gives us an integrated view of the community, the health system, and key dynamics around critical issues. In the broadest sense, it lays the foundation for insights and innovation, and helps us establish our position in the field.

Now that we are in our new, permanent home in Forest Park Southeast, we are putting our physical convening center to good use. We couldn’t be more excited about the conversations and events that have taken place thus far. The space comfortably accommodates 100-200 people in our biggest room, and in our inaugural year we’ve hosted more than 25 external groups. Organizations include the St. Louis Regional Chamber, St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission, Gateway Center for Giving, and the Metro Trans Umbrella Group, to name only a few. We offer the space free of charge to select organizations that are involved in efforts that are aligned with our mission. Through the convening center we’re bringing together partners, promoting cross-pollination between groups that might not otherwise be able to meet, and cultivating relationships as we all work together to improve health and well-being in our state.

Two women sitting a table, smiling and laughing
A conference room where a Missouri Foundation for Health event was held

The space is also allowing us to advance our own efforts. In 2019 we held events such as our Advocates’ Retreat, a media summit on the 2020 Census, a gun violence prevention stakeholder strategy meeting, the Midwest Funders Equitable Evaluation Peer-to-Peer Collaboratory, along with several others. Of course, we don’t limit our physical convenings to only the St. Louis area. Events like Transportation in Health (Columbia), the Introductory Capitol Workshops (Jefferson City), the 2020 Census Regional Convening (Poplar Bluff), and many others were held throughout the state.

A room filled with people attending a Missouri Foundation for Health event

As our convening strategy matures and our convening center becomes even more sought after, we are excited for what the future holds, not just for us, but for our innumerable partners.