The mission of the Health Foundation is to improve the health status of residents of the Greater Rochester community, including people whose unique health care needs have not been met because of race, ethnicity, or income.


The vision of Greater Rochester Health Foundation has three key elements: financial strength, sustainability, and programmatic impact.

  • Maintain our level of qualified distributions by increasing capital sufficiently on an inflation-adjusted basis.
  • Generate matching funds from local, state, and federal governments, as well as other foundations equal to an additional 25 percent of the funds the Health Foundation distributed to priority programs.
  • Achieve national best-practice recognition in three of the Health Foundation’s funded programs.
  • Actively support three successful efforts to address underlying social, political, economic, or legal barriers to achieving program goals.


We will be proactive in working with the Greater Rochester community to achieve our mission.

Our board of directors and staff will act in an ethical manner, respecting one another’s integrity and values, as well as those with whom we engage.

We will operate with good governance principles, prudent investment practices, appropriate financial controls, and respect for our employees.

The funding process will be accessible, interactive, and transparent.

The initiatives that we invest in will:

  • Take focused approaches to eliminating the root cause(s) of a targeted problem.
  • Be designed based on quantitative and qualitative analysis and, where applicable, evidence-based research.
  • Be open to rigorous analysis and measurement.
  • Demonstrate potential for sustainability.

In addition to our stated values, we identify needs and disparities that are important to the health status of our communities, and provide support for those solutions. We seek to be approachable, strategic and outcome-focused in our decision making and invest in activities that can produce measurable results.

How was the Health Foundation started?

Greater Rochester Health Foundation was created in 2006 when the not-for-profit MVP Health Plan acquired the not-for-profit HMO Preferred Care. The Preferred Care board of directors decided it was in the best interest of the community to use the purchase price of $232 million to create a private, not-for-profit foundation dedicated to improving the health of the Greater Rochester community. We distribute 5 percent of our assets each year to organizations in Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates counties. Since its inception, the Health Foundation has acted as an independent foundation governed by a community-based board of directors and managed by a professional staff.

Who manages the Health Foundation?

We are a private foundation governed by a community-based, 16-member board of directors and managed by a professional staff.

What is the role of the board of directors?

Our board of directors ensures that the Health Foundation’s mission—to improve the health status of residents of the Greater Rochester community—is fulfilled. Using their knowledge of the community and their specific area of expertise, board members establish the overall strategic plan for the Health Foundation and monitor and evaluate the implementation of the plan, including grant-making policies, areas of focus, and oversight of financial operations. The board also hires and evaluates the executive staff.

How are board members selected?

The nominating committee of the board works diligently to maintain a board that is diverse in race, ethnicity and expertise, and that is representative of the community. It is a self-perpetuating board and members are limited to a term of 10 years, with one to two members rotating off the board each year. As we do not raise funds, there is no expectation that board members contribute money to the Health Foundation.

What is the total staffing of the Health Foundation?

There are six program staff and six administrative staff employed by the Health Foundation. We contract with auditors, financial managers, attorneys, research and evaluation firms, public-relations agencies, program reviewers, and other professionals to supplement our full-time staff.

Does the Health Foundation pay taxes?

As a 501(c)3 private foundation, we pay 1 to 2 percent of our investment income as an excise tax and file a Form 990 each year.

What are the Health Foundation’s strategic areas of focus?

In 2017, the Health Foundation developed an updated strategic plan –  Healthy Futures: Improving the Health and Wellbeing of Children.

Who decides how much money is awarded each year?

The board of directors decides how much money will be awarded each year. The total amount of money available to award to all programs is based on the monthly average of the prior year’s average investment values. We comply with IRS regulations to award 5 percent of this amount to organizations in the nine-county area—Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates counties—for programs and administration. At the discretion of the board of directors, we may award more than 5 percent in a single year, based on community needs and the quality of the grant requests received.

What happens to a program when the grant funding is concluded?

The Health Foundation is not intended to be a sustainable source of funding for ongoing programs, and grants are typically limited to a maximum of three years. In the grant proposal, applicants are asked to describe how they will sustain the program or activity after the conclusion of the grant. If grantees have achieved outstanding results, we will consider extending a grant beyond three years.

How does the Health Foundation evaluate its own performance?

After our first full five years as a foundation, we engaged an external firm to evaluate our impact in light of our mission to improve the health of the community and to evaluate our policies and procedures based on grantee input. Their recommendations were incorporated into our strategic objectives for the upcoming years. An annual audit of our financial management practices is conducted, and the full board reviews our annual financial performance.