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Investing in Our Communities

Why this needs our attention

In Chicago, a person’s ZIP code can have more influence on their health outcomes than their genetic code. Despite the city’s population being almost evenly split betweenwhite (33%), Black (29%) and Latinx (29%) populations, the city is heavily racially segregated and stark economic and health inequities exist between racial and ethnic groups.

Today, a white Chicagoan lives 9 years longer on average than a Black Chicagoan. Between certain neighborhoods, the life expectancy gap widens to 30 years. Chronic disease, opioid overdose, gun-related homicide, infant mortality and HIV/infectious diseases are the largest contributors to the life expectancy gap, and disproportionately impact Chicago’s Black and Latinx populations living in medically underserved communities.

These critical health inequities exist due to underlying causes such as political, economic and geographic exclusion of Black and Latinx populations and disinvestment in their education, housing and local businesses. Research shows that these factors are heavily linked with poor health outcomes and chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease across all ages.

What Lurie Children's is doing to address it

Anchor Mission

Recognizing the link between health and economic vitality, Lurie Children’s has adopted an “Anchor Mission” to address neighborhood disinvestment more directly. This effort drives us to set and achieve goals for hiring, procurement and investment in specific ZIP codes.

Key advisors and partners in this effort include West Side UnitedChicago HEAL InitiativeChicago Anchors for a Strong Economy and the Healthcare Anchor Network.

Examples of Anchor Mission impact in 2020-2021 include:

Hiring Initiatives

  • Managed internship/mentorship programs for 500+ students annually from more than 40 Chicago Public Schools to expose youth to a range of careers in healthcare.
  • Annually, we aim to hire at least 15% of new employees from neighborhoods with a low/very low Child Opportunity Index. In 2020-2021, we exceeded that goal, with 20% of non-physician new hires and over 10% of employees who received a promotion residing in low/very low COI communities.

  • Held joint hiring fairs in West Side communities with West Side United hospitals.

  • Co-developed Career Pathways programs for entry-level employees to become medical assistants, health information technology professionals and nurses together with West Side United, Malcolm X College, and other hospitals.

Procurement / Supply Chain Initiatives

  • In 2020-2021, Lurie Children’s spent over $3.2 million in procurements from vendors in ZIP Codes designated as areas of focus by Senator Richard Durbin’s Chicago HEAL Initiative to strengthen neighborhood engagement, reduce violence and improve health.

  • In 2020-2021, Lurie Children’s invested $50,000 in the West Side United small business grant pool to strengthen and build the economic resilience of the community.

Impact Investing Initiatives

  • Lurie Children's has invested $1 million in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to provide loans to advance nonprofit housing and community development projects. Together with West Side United, we leveraged these funds to attract other investors, bringing total funds to $8.1 million in 2021. 

Community Benefit Investment

As part of Lurie Children’s nonprofit mission to improve the health and well-being of youth, we are proud to be the State of Illinois’ most significant partner in providing healthcare services to youth insured by Medicaid. We invest significant funds to offset losses due to Medicaid reimbursements, research and education, support for our patient families and community programs.

Our FY 20 Community Benefit Investment included:

  • Charity Care, losses due to Medicaid reimbursement below cost of services, and other uncompensated costs: $168.6 million
  • Resident and fellow training: $23.5 million
  • Language assistance services, pastoral care, social work, art and music therapies, volunteer services, transplant
  •  patient family housing and other family support services: $9.6 million
  • Research funding, net of grants and philanthropic support: $20.0 million
  • Community clinic support: $3.4 million
  • Child advocacy programs: $6.4 million

Total cost of unreimbursed charity care and community benefit programs: $231.5 million