2020 Annual Report Shining Through the Darkness

Illuminating Opportunity

What connects each Opportunity Fund project? The answer is simple: community. Whether it’s Columbia’s Agriculture Park or the St. Louis Racial Equity Summit, it’s about supporting communities that are finding innovative solutions to their most dire health issues. Working in collaboration, we’re challenging outmoded ways of thinking and testing concepts that explore ways to disrupt the status quo.

Looking back, we’re thrilled with the successes we’ve seen. Since first starting our Opportunity Fund, we’ve championed over 100 organizations leading impactful work across Missouri and improving conditions that contribute to poor health. We’re proud to have shared our expertise and resources to help bring these ideas to life.

Rendering of Columbia's Agriculture Park. Columbia Agriculture Park

A farmers market that has increased access to healthy foods and outdoor space for recreation and exercise.

Image of three women at the STL Racial Equity Summit. St. Louis Racial Equity Summit

A collaborative platform designed to drive action on issues to achieve racial equity.

We’ve learned a lot since those initial projects, both about health challenges around the state and how we can better engage with communities addressing them. We’ve been able to make connections between organizations doing complementary work, experiment with a mixture of methods, and broaden our understanding of work in other areas. Drawing on these lessons, we relaunched the Opportunity Fund with a more streamlined process and clarity around our systems-change focus, ensuring that organizations advanced their most compelling concepts and were positioned to go below the surface for a more enduring outcome.

In 2020, we supported a total of 38 projects with some of the most ingenious ideas to date.

As diverse as each concept was — and they varied greatly, by geography, focus, approach, and timeline — they all are rooted in the belief that together, we can achieve lasting impact, resulting in a healthier, more equitable state, one community at a time.

Here’s a sneak peek of a few exciting 2020 projects underway:
A graphic of the outline of Missouri.

Systems-Wide Connections to Support Students

Through systems-wide collaboration, the Second Judicial Circuit of Missouri will lead an effort with schools, behavioral health agencies, and the justice system to support intentional and comprehensive prevention, treatment, and capacity-building efforts to create positive, safe environments for youth. This connected systems model aims to address juvenile violence and trauma and prevent youth from entering the justice system in rural northeast Missouri.

Street Revolution: Disrupting Systemic Inequity With Proven Street Design

Starting in Columbia, the PedNet Coalition will lead a campaign that prioritizes people walking, biking, and riding transit. Using multi-tiered advocacy strategies, PedNet will collaborate with underrepresented residents to develop the details of a street design policy in line with the community’s needs, with the goal of replicating the model throughout the state.

Transitioning to Better Health

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, in partnership with the Metro Trans Umbrella Group, will launch a four-year, multi-stage program that will expand services and increase access to essential health care in the transgender community. As part of a larger effort to meet patients where they are, this new program will provide in-clinic, telehealth, and community services that are safe, respectful, and affordable.

Collaborative Approach to Public Good Investments

The Urban Institute will work with stakeholders in Springfield on identifying ways to implement a Collaborative Approach to Public Good Investments (CAPGI) process. The CAPGI is a financing model driven by local stakeholders, like health insurers, hospitals, and community-based organizations, that invests in upstream drivers of health inequities, like stable housing, reliable ways to get around, and nutritious food, to name a few.