As the Executive Director of Community Catalyst, I’m incredibly proud of the progress our organization has made over the last nearly 25 years — helping people across this country have a voice and influence over how the US health system responds to community needs. During that time, Community Catalyst has become a trusted partner to advocacy organizations across the country, a change agent to policymakers at the state and national level, and both an adversary and a collaborator to health systems in our collective efforts to expand insurance coverage and make health care better for everyone.

Along with our partners, we have been at the forefront of major victories — from passing, implementing, and protecting the Affordable Care Act to improving essential programs like Medicaid and Medicare. Through it all, we have been driven by a commitment to connecting policy to community experience and strengthening the health advocacy infrastructure.

In our country, health is a commodity rather than a right

But even with this progress, the US health system remains entrenched in inequity — with laws, policies, and practices that discriminate against people because of race, income, immigration status, gender identity, age and disability. As the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed, the health system continues to put profit over people’s health and reinforces systems of white supremacy, patriarchy, and other systems of oppression. In our country, health is a commodity rather than a right. And, despite widespread public support for addressing the deep inequities in our health system, policymakers are not sufficiently responsive to people — especially those most hurt by our health system.

Our new strategy pushes towards structural health system change

Given these urgent challenges, Community Catalyst’s new strategy is designed to push our work towards structural health system change. As we begin this new chapter, Community Catalyst is focusing our work on race equity and health justice, long-term vision setting and power building. We are intent on directing our passion and commitment more deliberately towards race equity and health justice, centering our work on creating a system that prioritizes the people most hurt by it today, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), individuals with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, women, immigrants and older adults. We recognize the need to embody this commitment in a deep way by embedding race equity and health justice into the core of our mission — and throughout our organization and work.

In fact, as we near our 25th anniversary, our new strategic vision and mission are focused on building the power of people to create a health system rooted in race equity and health justice, and a society where health is a right for all.

As we pave the road ahead, we will collaborate with community partners to build a policy vision for change that anchors race equity and health justice — and champions community-led ideas at the local, state, and national level to meet the health needs of people most hurt by our current health system. This is the work we must do to organize a more powerful, united, multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement that can stand up to corporate interests and opponents of race equity and health justice. By bridging power building with public policy and advocacy, we will link the work of today with the future we are trying to create.

Earlier this week, MacKenzie Scott shared the news that Community Catalyst is one of the latest organizations to receive an unrestricted gift — for which we are incredibly grateful. Her generous one-time gift of $25 million is the largest our organization has received to date and is recognition of the impact of our work with communities across the US, the progress we and our partners have made to advance health care access, and the urgent need to build a health system that is shaped by and accountable to all people.

And yet we know that creating structural change at scale does not come easily nor does it come quickly. From public awareness to organizing to policy making, movement building requires a robust and coordinated effort at the local, state and national level. It will take an even greater investment now and over the coming years to ensure all people, especially those most harmed by the health system today, have better coverage, better care and better health. All of our work must be grounded in the reality that we are working against an organized and powerful opposition to the change we seek — and we will need your help to build a groundswell of support to achieve results for all of us.

We believe everyone should have what they need to be healthy and thrive, and all people should be able to access comprehensive, quality and equitable care.

We invite you to join us in building a more powerful, united health justice movement working to fundamentally transform the health system.