Build Missouri Health (BMH), a new Independent Sector member, launched in 2019 as a subsidiary nonprofit of the Missouri Foundation for Health. As the charitable partner of the Foundation, BMH seeks to ensure that the Midwest, and Missouri in particular, are represented in important collaborations and conversations across the nation and around the globe about the importance of addressing health inequities and improving health outcomes for all.
We talked with Executive Director, Jasmine Hall Ratliff, about the plans for their organization’s work.
IS: What is your organization’s mission?
JHR: Build Missouri Health fosters and amplifies community-led innovations through partnerships, resulting in radical systems changes that create equitable health outcomes.
IS: Tell us about your organization’s areas of interest, the communities you serve, and how your work helps to advance an equitable and healthy sector and nation where all people can thrive.
JHR: Our areas of interest are health and affordable housing, health care workforce, and climate and health. We just completed our first strategic plan so our exact work and programs are under development, but we hope to change current systems that will result in greater health equity and opportunities where people can live their healthiest lives.
IS: What are your organization’s core programs that support the community you serve and help strengthen the nonprofit sector?
JHR: Our work will focus on systems change at community, regional, or state levels by addressing social determinants of health. These are aspects of a person’s health that are beyond access to good health care, such as quality affordable housing in areas that are experiencing the impacts of climate change. While we do not yet have any programs, earlier this year we completed our first strategic plan and will be developing and implementing programs over the next year.
We also serve as a fiscal sponsor for organizations and coalitions that want to address these areas of interest and either don’t desire to create a new nonprofit, or are working on a time-limited campaign or other effort. As far as I can tell, we are the only fiscal sponsor in the state that is focused on health equity and as such, will enhance other nonprofits’ efforts to create health equity across Missouri.
IS: Independent Sector brings together a diverse community of changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs that are working to achieve a racially just and healthy sector and nation where all people in the U.S. thrive. What influenced your decision to become an Independent Sector member? How does your work align with Independent Sector’s mission and our member organizations?
JHR: I think that being a member of Independent Sector as a new nonprofit will help keep us informed of the policy efforts to support nonprofit organizations across the U.S., and we can become involved in those efforts along with other Missouri nonprofits. In addition, because we are working on improving health outside of clinical care, being a member of Independent Sector will help us connect with and learn from organizations working on housing, climate, and workforce development. In doing so, we can hopefully bring successful models and projects to Missouri.
Independent Sector collaborates with individuals and the charitable community to create a racially just and healthy sector and nation. How does your work help to support or advance these objectives?
JHR: Achieving health equity begins by addressing racial disparities, and this is a frame we will use across our work. We will focus on racial equity in all geographies because when we can reduce disparities across races, regardless of where people are located, we can begin to bring health equity and health justice to communities.
What or who inspires you to be a changemaker?
JHR: When I hear the word ‘changemaker’ I immediately think about my 16 years in philanthropy and within that time, getting to know Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) and its leaders and members. EPIP is probably my favorite philanthropy-serving organization because of the constant energy of its leaders and members who are fully invested in seeing philanthropy as a sector do better for its grantees and the country as a whole.
One of the people I met in my early EPIP days, Trista Harris, has been my changemaker inspiration from day one. Her leadership in the nonprofit space and then the foundation space — bringing new ideas to and moving the organizations she led towards addressing equity — has been something I’ve admired over the years. Now her new work as a philanthropic futurist and efforts to bring this technique to the social sector so we can better address systems change is truly inspiring. I was honored to be accepted into her FutureGood Studio program this year and hope to be able to use the lessons she shares over the next couple of months to make impactful systems change here in Missouri.
Lindsay Marcal is Manager, Membership at Independent Sector.