GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 6 – Health Net of West Michigan has received a $270,000 grant to expand existing equity efforts, including adding additional health equity training for Health Net staff working with families to access early childhood resources, completion of an equity-focused strategic plan, revision of policy and training for board members. This project is supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Health Net of West Michigan works within Kent County to help individuals and families to navigate healthcare and social services systems. The funding has allowed for the creation of an Equity Officer position held by Krystle Duthil. The position focuses on efforts to ensure the Health Net team and partners are implementing equitable practices in service delivery. The areas of focus for internal staff include creating more robust professional development in racial, LGBTQIA+, disability, age, and gender equity.
“We have always taken an uncompromising stance that everyone should have equitable access to the resources they need to live healthier lives. This has been prominent since the founding of our organization. Equity and inclusion will remain at the forefront of our work,” said Maureen Kirkwood, Executive Director, “As an organization, we recognize that there is no room for complacency in equity work and are honored to have the opportunity to continue to educate ourselves and others about equitable practices.”
The initiatives expanded by the grant funding will allow for Health Net representatives to draw upon their experience assisting community members to provide insight to system leaders to develop equitable solutions.
“These funds will increase our capacity to amplify the voices of historically marginalized communities, advocate for better health outcomes by leveraging our organizational capacity, and continue to be innovators in our equity journey,” said Krystle Duthil, Equity Officer. “I am proud to be involved in the design and implementation of improved practices that ensure equitable access to resources, especially in light of the health inequities significantly exacerbated through the COVID-19 pandemic.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Net of West Michigan has continued to serve the community and adapt to the everchanging landscape of healthcare and social services. Staff has continued to work safely off-site and the organization has adjusted eligibility criteria to reach more individuals living in Kent County to allow more equitable access to resources.
About Health Net of West Michigan
Health Net of West Michigan works to identify where systems are failing Kent County communities and collaborates with formal healthcare systems, community resources, and insurance providers to find solutions that ensure equitable access. As a neutral convener, Health Net offers services that are dynamic and adaptable to ensure we can maintain a wide scope of work and to build meaningful relationships with those served. The organization specializes in connecting and navigating healthcare systems and social services systems. For more information, visit healthnetwm.org.
About W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special attention is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.