Celebrating 60 years of impact

Sixty years after our founding, Health Resources in Action continues to carry out its original mission to support medical research and health education – albeit in terms and approaches that continue to evolve with the times.

HRiA was originally founded in 1957 as “The Medical Foundation of Metropolitan Boston” by founding partners including the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the United Fund (currently the United Way of Massachusetts Bay), with a three-pronged approach:

  • To support research into the leading causes of death, disability, and other serious health problems
  • To put into active use scientific findings of medical research and other sources
  • To carry out and support public educational programs to help families and individuals to receive the full benefits of available medical knowledge

While we maintain The Medical Foundation identity in our biomedical grantmaking, the organization became Health Resources in Action in 2009 to more accurately reflect the breadth of our work applying evidence and innovation to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities.

HRiA has played a role in significant developments in public health and biomedical research in Massachusetts and beyond, helping to establish Massachusetts as a leader in both areas. In 1971, the first neighborhood health centers conference, sponsored by HRiA, paved the way for the creation of the Massachusetts League of Neighborhood Health Centers – the first association of its kind in the country. In 1979, we began working with our first family foundation client, the Charles A. King Trust – setting the stage for decades of grant management programs and life sciences consulting. And in the  early 1980s, HRiA’s established one of eight regional centers on substance use prevention and launched our training services.

These historical milestones helped to pave the way for HRiA’s growth in a number of areas. Our training services have expanded beyond substance use prevention to develop the workforce of thousands of adults who work with youth, to build understanding of racism and achieve equity, and to bolster public health capacity. Across the country we work with local and state agencies, community health centers, hospitals and health systems, and other community partners to assess community health, facilitate community health planning, and support implementation and evaluation of innovative approaches. We’ve operated The Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline and Health Promotion Clearinghouse each for nearly 20 years. And our biomedical grantmaking has grown to include 17 current funding programs through which we’ve distributed more than $222 million since 1957. For the last decade, we’ve been applying this expertise in developing and managing grantmaking programs to community health investment.

We’ve also grown through strategic partnerships with others who share our mission, becoming the fiscal sponsor for entities such as the Boston Alliance for Community Health, the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers, and the Collaborative Parent Leadership Action Network. And we are positioned for greater impact on the social determinants of health by working with partners in health care, early care and education, and community development.

To celebrate our sixty-year history, and to look forward to the future in our new office space in Boston’s Chinatown, we’re holding an open house on May 2, 2018. Bringing partners together to recognize our collective accomplishments – and perhaps to spark new relationships and opportunities for collaboration – is our goal.

Join us on May 2 for hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and engaging discussion, highlighted by our guest speaker, Maura Healey, Attorney General of Massachusetts.