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MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation: Strategic Planning

Case Overview

The MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation (MCHCF) is a $125 million health care conversion foundation serving 25 towns west of Boston. FSG conducted MCHCF’s 2004 strategic plan, and was re-engaged to help the Foundation develop its next 5-year strategic plan in 2008.

The Challenge

MCHCF was already considered a strategic grantmaker in its community. With the 2004 plan, FSG helped the Foundation increase its focus as well as its intentional use of tools for change beyond purely grantmaking. One of the key outcomes was the design of proactive initiatives in the areas of youth substance abuse prevention, support for the community-based health care center and increased priority on capacity building. MCHCF’s key motivation for the 2008-2013 strategic planning effort was to learn from its grantmaking experience, and continually advance activities to increase its impact.

Approach & Solutions

FSG assessed the Foundation’s progress to date, researched the changes in community needs following its initial strategic plan and then developed recommendations for the next five years. FSG conducted this landscape assessment through surveys, interviews and focus groups of internal stakeholders (Board, staff) and external stakeholders (nearly 100 community members including grantees, community leaders and issue area experts).

FSG then researched target proactive initiative areas and facilitated Board and staff discussions to develop impact goals. Finally, FSG developed an action plan that included evaluation metrics and dashboards, as well as staffing and budget implications.

FSG recommended a three-pronged approach to build on MCHCF’s previous successes, while providing new ways for the Foundation to respond to changing needs in the community:

  1. Increasing intensity of focus on proactive initiatives in the areas of youth substance abuse, childhood obesity, racial and ethnic health disparities, and elder health care. Using a community-based approach where possible, the Foundation will work in partnership with local organizations to address these health needs.
  2. Playing a leadership role in addressing systemic health care issues in ways that support and reinforce proactive initiatives. The Foundation will achieve this by enhancing capacity building and knowledge sharing efforts, as well as building field-wide infrastructure in order to address the underlying problems facing the health care system.
  3. Evolving as a learning organization by dedicating additional resources to evaluating the outcomes of its proactive initiatives, and using evaluation results to improve the Foundation's ability to impact social issues.

About MCHCF

The MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation is an independent health conversion foundation with a mission to “improve the health status of the community, its individuals and families through informed and innovative leadership.” In 2008, the Foundation’s assets stood at $125 million it had awarded over $23 million in grants in the 25 communities it serves since its inception in 1999.

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