Advancing Health Equity in Spartanburg
The Mary Black Foundation believes that health and wellness are basic human rights.
In 2018, the Foundation adopted a health equity statement:
Health equity exists when all people have access to opportunities to thrive, both physically and mentally, and no one is limited in achieving health and wellness because of their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, ability, sexual orientation, age, income, or zip code.
However, we quickly realized that having a statement was not sufficient enough. We needed a framework to guide our work. In 2020, the Foundation’s Program Directors, Keisha Gray and Natalia Valenzuela Swanson sat down to research and create a framework that would guide us in achieving our mission to invest in people and communities for improved health, wellness, and success in Spartanburg County.
To advance health equity, Spartanburg will need to ensure it has: (1) high quality education & employment, (2) safe & supportive neighborhoods, and (3) accessible, affordable, & culturally relevant health care.
Framework in Action
While no one organization can achieve health equity alone, the Mary Black Foundation uses its resources- grants and impact investments, advocacy, capacity building, technical assistance, convening, and strategic alliances- to advance health equity. Below are examples of how the Mary Black Foundation is working to achieve health equity.
Achieving Health Equity in Our Community
In each of the three buckets of Mary Black Foundation’s Health Equity Framework, there are different sub-categories. These subcategories are more specific things that a community needs to have to ensure all people can achieve health and wellness.
Positive Youth Development Opportunities
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), positive youth development programs strengthen young people’s sense of identity, belief in the future, self-regulation, and self-efficacy as well as their social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral competence.
Positive youth development (PYD) programs provide youth with networks of supportive adults. Unlike many prevention programs that focus solely on risk behaviors, PYD programs aim to develop and enhance positive characteristics of individuals and their surrounding context. By increasing protective factors rather than focusing on risk behaviors related to a single adverse outcome, PYD programs have benefits across a range of health and academic outcomes.
Spartanburg’s Out of School Time Collaborative
The Spartanburg County Out-of-School-Time Collaborative exists to close persistent opportunity gaps by improving, expanding, and sustaining high-quality afterschool and summer programs for middle and high school-age youth. This collaborative is an initiative through Spartanburg Academic Movement to ensure high levels of academic success for ALL children in our community.
The goal of this collaborative is to double the number of low-income middle/high school youth who have access to high-quality OST programs in Spartanburg County from 14% in 2019 to 28% in 2024.
The OST core shared principles include:
- The OST Collaborative will function as a voluntary, incentive-driven, opt-in network created for the purpose of achieving better results for young people in Spartanburg County.
- Providers will support youth achieving the Profile of a South Carolina Graduate by creating opportunities for young people to build world class skills and develop the life and career characteristics necessary for success.
- The Fundamentals of Youth-Serving Providers Certificate Program from the Child Protection Training Center at USC Upstate will serve as a minimum threshold for program quality and common training for all providers.
- There will be no public comparisons between organizations/programs; give up “turf-ism” and be willing to learn from and with each other.
- Providers will strive for evidence-based programming.
- Providers will demonstrate a commitment to equity and inclusion.
- Providers include youth voice in their program planning and assessment.
Learn More About Spartanburg Academic Movement and Out-of-School Time Collaborative
To become involved with the OST Collaborative, email SAM team member Savannah Ray or Meghan Smith or call the SAM office 864-573-5804.
The OST Collaborative has a tiered membership structure that supports adoption of quality standards for youth-serving organizations and programs based upon the group’s shared principles and the action plan blueprint. These two documents for the foundation upon which Spartanburg’s OST Collaborative works to reach its vision:
Learn More About Mary Black Foundation
Visit Mary Black Foundation’s website to learn more about our Health Equity Framework and examples of ways the Foundation has used grant funding and impact investments to further its mission.