2019 Annual ReportA Focus on the Social Determinants of Health

A Focus on the Social Determinants of Health

A Focus on the Social Determinants of Health

“Nearly 80 percent of what impacts quality and length of life is driven by health behaviors and
non-health-related factors routinely referred to as the Social Determinants of Health.” 

National Academy of Medicine1

Social Determinants of Health

Addressing social determinants is not only important for improving overall health, but also for reducing health disparities that are often rooted in long-established policies and practices that fuel social and economic disadvantages. In FY 2019, Sunflower Foundation allocated $1.3 million to this work – a significant investment for Sunflower but only a fraction of the overall investment needed to substantially move the needle on the myriad of issues that comprise the social determinants of health.

Our approach focused on identifying and hopefully growing the number of diverse organizations in this space. In addition, we sought to better understand the philosophy and approach that grantee organizations deploy as they work to address the broader social needs of the people and communities they serve.

Moving Upstream

A primary focus of this grant program was to encourage organizations to reflect on how they approach their work to address the social determinants of health. We wanted grantees to stretch their thinking, to move their organizations further “upstream”2 and be more mindful and strategic in selecting and implementing the strategies they choose to deploy.

1Social Determinants of Health 101 for Health Care: Five Plus Five (Oct. 9, 2017) at https://nam.edu/social-determinants-of-health-101-for-health-care-five-plus-five/
2Meeting Individual Social Needs Falls Short of Addressing Social Determinants of Health (January 16, 2019) at https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20190115.234942/full/