Chrysalis: not your typical funder

Chrysalis: not your typical funder

One of the key priorities we identify in our mission statement is “security” – for Chrysalis, this means physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being. This may seem like a simple thing, but for many, it’s just the opposite.

We all have a personal responsibility to take care of ourselves and our own well-being. But for many, things outside of their control – like where they’re born or who they’re parents are – affect our ability to be healthy and “well.” These are among the factors that are termed “social determinants of health and well-being” and are extensively researched (by social epidemiologists) to determine and influence issues related to the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities, and society.

Social determinants of health and well-being are conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Conditions (social, economic, and physical) in these various environments and settings (school, church, workplace, and neighborhood) are linked to well-being.

Examples of social determinants of health and well-being include:

  • availability of resources to meet daily needs (safe housing and local food markets)
  • access to educational, economic, and job opportunities
  • access to health care services
  • quality of education and job training
  • availability of community-based resources in support of community living; opportunities for recreational and leisure-time activities
  • transportation options
  • public safety
  • social support
  • social norms and attitudes (discrimination, racism, and distrust of government)
  • exposure to crime, violence, and social disorder (presence of trash, lack of cooperation in a community)
  • socioeconomic conditions (concentrations of poverty and the stressful conditions that accompany it)
  • residential segregation
  • language/literacy
  • access to mass media and technologies (cell phones, internet, social media)
  • culture

More of the specific social determinants include racial bias, media influence, politics, cultural differences, living circumstances, location, and level of education.

You can see that there is so much more to well-being than health – it’s a complex number of additional forces, often out of the control of an individual.  Factors ranging from poverty, violence, lack of educational opportunities demonstrate – to us – that our mission doesn’t revolve around one issue or concern, and often, the tangle of problems nonprofits address.

Understanding and addressing the social determinants for a community are necessary methods for making change. They help identify the root causes or problems, inform strategy and tactics to respond, and will likely work toward broad, long-term solutions. For organizations like Chrysalis, understanding social determinants of health and well-being are critical to effective prevention.

Knowing this, our focus in Chrysalis After-School, as well as our education of community nonprofits, is to learn from and to educate them about the challenge of complex issues faced by girls and women they serve. We use what we know, which is:

  1. Addressing the issue is not enough. We understand that the issues and barriers affecting girls and women have multiple causes, and if we only “fix” the situation, we will never reach into the root cause to create long-term change. Our work is to help change the culture that creates challenges for girls and women in the community.
  1. Working toward long-term solutions to long-term problems.In studying the social determinants of health and well-being, we better understand how to work with –and educate- others to take a role in social solutions to these problems.
  1. Focusing on broad community well-being.For example, when we work to reduce/eliminate violence in the lives of girls and women, we address all factors contributing to a culture of violence – stereotypes, culture, environment, attitudes, personal experiences, etc.
  1. Hearing the community. In serving on community panels and committees, talking with community leaders, hearing from our nonprofit partners, and getting input from girls involved in our after-school programs, we know the reality of the conditions in which girls and women live, including the social determinants.  We are also better able to develop and implement our strategies toward how, when, and where we can make the most difference.

Being close to our community is a reason so many rely on Chrysalis for the latest and most vital information, education, and support. This is just another way that Chrysalis is not your typical funder.