The Golisano Foundation made a “big bet” of $37 million to increase access to healthcare for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) by partnering with Special Olympics and launching Healthy Communities. Now active in 57 communities around the world, the initiative is impacting change on a large scale through innovative partnerships and advocacy.
On 15 November, as part of the 2017 NYS Funders Conference, using Healthy Communities as a case study, Ann Costello, Executive Director of the Golisano Foundation, along with Lucy Meyer, Special Olympics Health Ambassador and others presented a panel titled “Going for the Gold! Impacting Change on a Large Scale”. The panel talked about the role of funders as highly engaged partners, who help bridge boundaries across sectors, and use clout and influence (and financial resources) to strengthen the field and improve performance. Ann Costello discussed how Foundations need to move from simply writing a check to being a hands-on partner, and shape program design, implementation strategies and outcomes. Special Olympics’ Healthy Communities can be applied in other arenas on innovative collaborations, to leverage financial and networking resources, systems change, and collective impact. The panel challenged attendees, who were mostly funders, to provide leadership in creating equity and inclusion in their funding processes for underserved populations.