A Little Bit About Us

Our History

The Foundation has an interesting home-grown origin story, and we are committed to staying true to our roots.  Watch the interview with four of our founders, or read on below for “just-the-facts, ma’am.”

Rocky Mountain Health Foundation (RMHF) proudly traces its roots back 40 years to Rocky Mountain Health Plans (RMHP) in Grand Junction, where the Foundation headquarters are located today.

As one of the first Health Maintenance Organizations, Rocky Mountain Health Plans  was started by physicians and community leaders to ensure people of all population groups had access to innovative, quality, affordable healthcare at reasonable costs. RMHP was committed to being a good neighbor in communities by supporting both the people and the medical professionals in collaborative and participatory ways. Rocky Mountain Health Plans earned a national reputation for doing the right thing to support those most in need.

In 1997, Rocky Mountain Health Plans Foundation (RMHPF) was incorporated as a state-wide nonprofit organization to be a catalyst for innovative health care solutions for communities large and small throughout the state. It functioned as a small corporate foundation. Then, as now, it was recognized that many people with long-term health problems or modest means were in urgent need of help.

One of RMHPF’s first grants provided access and financial support for dental care for pregnant women suffering from dental disease to prevent preterm deliveries. That very first grant then led the Foundation to one of its legacy programs, BABY & ME – Tobacco Free Program which incentivizes pregnant women to stop smoking early in their pregnancy with free baby diapers for a year after their baby is born. The program has one of the highest cessation successes anywhere in the United States at 89% and every $1 dollar spent on the program results in $6.73 costs savings by mothers delivering fewer preterm babies, having babies at a healthy birth rate, and fewer babies being admitted to neonatal intensive care programs.

RMHF in its current configuration started in 2017 when United Healthcare (a for profit business) purchased Rocky Mountain Health Plans (a nonprofit corporation).  The initial proceeds from the sale resulted in $38M invested on behalf of RMHF. Later additions to the investments, related to the sale, bring the current investment dollars available to RMHF to approximately $85M. Rocky Mountain Health Foundation is a private foundation completely separate from the health plan.

RMHF prioritizes our funding around efforts that address critical needs and increase access to health for the underserved. We support nonprofits that offer services meeting physical health, behavioral health, and basic needs for people struggling to support themselves and their families.

Even though RMHF is no longer a part of Rocky Mountain Health Plans, we are fully committed to continuing the tradition of caring for those most vulnerable in our region.

Our Mission

Our mission is to improve the health of people living on the Western Slope by investing in existing community assets and by acting as a catalyst for new approaches. We provide resources to organizations that enhance the well-being of people living in Western Colorado.

Our Values

Rocky Mountain Health Foundation is dedicated to being both a funder and a partner. We practice Trust-Based Philanthropy which, on a practical level, includes multi-year unrestricted giving, streamlined applications and reporting, and a commitment to building relationships based on transparency, dialogue, and mutual learning. We approach grantee relationships as an ongoing partnership rather than a one-time transaction. Our core values reflect our belief in trust-based philanthropy principles, and we welcome feedback about how we are living up to these values.

A community that excludes even one member is not a community at all.

  • Acknowledge and manage our biases.
  • Deepen our own individual work and hold a space for others to do their work.
  • Embrace processes where we explicitly solicit input and listen to communities and people of color and low income.
  • Our actions will be informed by those who are impacted by our decisions.
  • Work across differences with curiosity, grace and humility.
  • Support equity – the equality of outcome – by identifying and helping to eliminate disparities that keep people from a healthy life.

Great things never came from comfort zones.

  • See possibilities, take risks, and support bold, creative, and hopeful solutions.
  • Lean in on hard issues.
  • Have authentic conversations.
  • Being clear is kind.
  • Tolerate discomfort.
  • Value the spirit of experimentation and collaboration and move to action.
  • Be optimistic.

Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity.

  • Be present – show all the way up.
  • Be humble, patient, and honest.
  • Share power; respect and acknowledge
  • Be vulnerable and transparent.
  • Keep confidentiality and behave ethically.
  • Keep commitments and take responsibility.
  • Show rigor, focus, and discipline.

We cannot become what we want by remaining who we are.

  • Pursue excellence in our work.
  • Commit to continuous learning.
  • Be curious and open to new ideas.
  • Seek diverse points of view.
  • Pause to reflect.
  • Listen and act on feedback.
  • Embrace change and be flexible.

Our Commitment to Equity

The Foundation recognizes the existence and power of historical and ongoing systemic structures that have excluded individuals from leading their healthiest lives. We are committed to supporting work that addresses these inequities. We will actively strive to dismantle barriers and foster equitable opportunities for all. Our Equity Principles & Practices document outlines our beliefs and actions regarding equity. It demonstrates our commitment to creating an equitable workplace of belonging and diversity, and we intend to hold ourselves accountable to it.

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