News May 8, 2018

Announcing Our New Strategy

Dear Stakeholders –

We are thrilled to share the facets of our newly-approved strategic plan with the community with this letter, via our new website and in person. As we embarked on a strategic thinking process eight months ago we bore in mind our history of continuous improvement and learning. We are an organization that evolves and part of that means periodically reviewing and updating our strategy. Our role is to enable the most impact on the most urgent issues facing our community.

Context for the Plan

For the last several years we focused on three critical pillars: A Strong Neighborhood, Resilient Families and Healthy People. Combined, these pillars were the work of our former mission. They evolved, as did the environment in which we work. So, in 2017 we set out to find our new North Star, the thread that would be woven throughout all of our work. We have determined that the pursuit of health equity for all will be the new focus of our mission and work.

Health Equity

Health equity means that everyone has a fair opportunity to live a long, healthy life. Health should not be compromised or disadvantaged because of an individual or population group’s race, ethnicity, gender, income, sexual orientation, neighborhood or other social condition.

Social Determinants of Health

We know that racism and poverty have contributed to a world where people do not have the same health outcomes due to disparities of income and education as well as other systemic issues beyond any one individual’s control. We have to address the social issues that create inequity, or the social determinants of health. I encourage you to read about in many areas of our website. The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation is the most influential organization in this area; please see this publication on how to talk about social determinants of health. The excerpt below is quite eloquent and speaks directly to what we want to work for:

“It’s time we made it possible for all Americans to afford to see a doctor, but it’s also time we made it less likely that they need to. Where people live, learn, work and play has an enormous impact whether they stay well in the first place. Health starts in strong, loving families and in neighborhoods with sidewalks safe for walking and grocery stores with fresh vegetables. Health starts in jobs we can get to without hours of commuting and in work places free of unnecessary hazards. Health starts in schools that educate our children for the jobs of the 21st century so they can compete in the world economy, that feed them healthy meals rather than junk foods, and that send them home safe at the end of the day. And health starts in having the time and financial resources to play at the end of the day because unrelieved stress takes its toll on our hearts and immune systems. As we work on fixing health care in America, we need to start where health starts, not just where it ends”.

Our Plan

There is a lot to read, but if you want a simple snapshot, you will find a two page easy-to-read synopsis of the plan including our new vision, mission, values, guiding principles and goals here.

Our new mission is to “Achieve health equity by addressing social determinants of health for people in neighborhoods surrounding Saint Luke’s and in Cuyahoga County”. We developed strategies related to: educational attainment, income, housing safety, social connections, healthy eating/active living and the environment surrounding Saint Luke’s. Underscored in knitting all of these things together is our commitment to policy work and supporting efforts to drive change in more systemic ways to move the needle on health equity.


When the Saint Luke’s board of directors first discussed the idea of health equity, it seemed like an overwhelming notion, a concept that might be too big for us to have an impact on in light of the many social determinants of health that contribute to health equity. Toward that end, we agreed that we can’t accomplish it all in any given year, so we determined the following priorities for the coming 18 months:

  • Environmental triggers (such as mold and lead) affecting housing safety and stability
  • Housing demolition and rehab in the Saint Luke’s neighborhood
  • School and community infrastructure for fresh, healthy food
  • Community capacity for addressing the effects of trauma and toxic stress
  • Improved public safety in the Saint Luke’s Neighborhood
  • Thriving commercial corridors in the Buckeye/Shaker Square/Larchmere neighborhoods
  • Threats to Medicaid
  • Voter engagement
  • Effective lead legislation

The above list doesn’t preclude funding anything that falls within our strategic framework; it is a list of where we will be pro-active and where we will prioritize our focus.

Additional Changes

You may be wondering what else will be different:

  • We have a new organizational chart with positions that were not previously on our staff. Heather Torok is our new Vice President of Programs and Strategy. We have also created a new position of Senior Director of Community Engagement which has recently been filled by Monique Kelly who will pursue work in our neighborhood beyond grantmaking. Finally, we are hiring a program officer to round out our grantmaking team. You will find our new organizational chart here.
  • Our grant proposal and report forms will be staying the same for the time being and we will notify you if any changes are made in the future.
  • We have developed a set of criteria that we will use as a lens for our decision making.
  • Our discretionary grant limit has been moved to $15,000. Please click here for details about the purpose and parameters of our discretionary grant program.
  • We are committed to providing general operating support when appropriate and feasible. We recognize that isolating program costs can be laborious in some cases and that it is not helpful to restrict funding narrowly when we are supporting organizations that are doing work that is strategically aligned with our mission.
  • During the planning process we discussed performance measures extensively. Click here to see a list of the performance measures tied to our mission and objectives that we will be continuously monitoring.


We are committed to communicating with the community about our work in every way we can. In addition to pro-active work, I assure you that we will be responsive to your questions and concerns, and prompt in responding.

We will hold stakeholder meetings at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging on the following dates (please register via the links):

May 10th 3-4:30pm

May 11th 9-10:30am

In addition, we will hold drop-in hours in our offices at 11327 Shaker Boulevard at the following times:

June 13th 9-11am
June 14th 1-3pm

During these hours you can come without an appointment and one of us will be happy to meet with you to talk in-depth. And, finally, while we have met individually with many of you over the last months, there are more with whom we would be happy to get together. We are right here, an email or phone call away, so please reach out – and we will be reaching out as well.

You may have questions that we have not anticipated and we will most certainly learn new lessons as we set about implementing this plan, so we consider this the beginning of the future more than the end of our strategic planning process. We will share our lessons learned and communicate with you about what we have not anticipated and hope that you will do the same. I look forward to continuing our journey together as a community.



Saint Luke’s Latest News & Updates

We and our strategy partners work together to close the health equity gaps. Stay informed about our latest initiatives, grantmaking news, and upcoming events, as well as the recent efforts of our strategy partners.