The Humana Foundation, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2021, is the philanthropic arm of Humana Inc. The Humana Foundation’s grant-making portfolio is rooted in advancing health equity by addressing the social determinants of health.

Building a Legacy of Health Equity

One of my dad's beliefs about the foundation's work was it was really important to find the intersection of passion and competence.
Finding people who are passionate about what they were doing, but also knew how to get stuff done.
I'm David Jones Jr.
I'm a board member of the Humana Foundation, also a member of the board of directors of Humana Inc.
And my father founded both the company and the foundation.
So I have been around this organization since I was about three years old.
In 1981 my dad formed the foundation, the co-founders, my dad and Wendell Cherry were both very interested in the community of Louisville, they from the beginning were looking to help the city improve.
The core notion in the beginning was for the foundation to have a kind of a structural purpose.
In good years the company would be able to set aside money and in lean years the foundation would have money, so that steady benefit to community organizations to arts organizations could continue.
The first really enduring work that it did was getting behind what became the Humana Festival of New American Plays.
There wasn't any single place where new plays by American writers were performed.
That through today is the longest running single corporate support for the arts in America.
The physical infrastructure of Louisville, dad loved real estate, he loved building, he loved building nursing homes and hospitals.
Those physical projects, Waterfront Park, the Big Four Bridge.
I mean he loved all that infrastructure.
He loved the blossoming of the city.
In the early '90s President Bush called my dad and he said, we need help.
The Berlin Wall has fallen and the healthcare systems in these former Soviet empire countries are pathetic, they're crushed.
Would you go over and look at it and recommend what to do.
When the president asks you to do something the only answer is yes and then you have to figure out exactly what that will require.
My name is Virginia Kelly Judd, and I am the former executive director of the Humana Foundation.
Romania was the most meaningful philanthropic activity of my entire career.
It was day two at Humana for me, they needed someone who spoke French to call Romania who could talk to the ministry of health and make some arrangements, and I got that privilege.
And my experience at Humana, my career, changed that day.
My first trip was the next year and I toured the clinics and hospitals and conditions were abysmal.
And there was no money, no medicine, no nurse training programs, Western medical knowledge had been banned in Romania under 45 years of communism.
So they needed everything.
You have to go out and see what's happening in order to change it.
I went to Romania 25 times over the 16 year period of the project.
We offered this cadre of American volunteer nurses and doctors, technology experts, public health experts, to share what they knew and to help them address some of those needs.
And I believe that that is a great example of the beginnings of the foundation's priority on health equity.
Health equity is that good quality health is available to everyone, really looks at what's called the social determinants of health.
Things like poverty and poor housing and poor nutrition, lack of quality education, and observes and studies how those elements affect our health.
And in the case of the foundation we embraced the opportunity to learn more about how could we help understand those problems with them more meaningfully, and what could we do together to find solutions.
A key priority of the Humana Foundation from the beginning was a focus on education.
There are many transformative projects that we were privileged to be part of.
Family Scholar House is a nonprofit here in Louisville.
So I believe real impact is Joi Williams.
My name is Joi Williams.
I am a Family Scholar House started out resident, progressive volunteer, and now board member.
Family Scholar House lives up to its name, it is truly a family.
Their primary objective is to end the cycle of poverty through education.
There is a residential piece as well, where they provide income based housing.
So they are really changing the lives of single parents and young adults that are aging out of foster care, pursuing a post-secondary education.
I definitely feel like my connection with the Scholar House and where it all started,
I would say divine intervention for sure, but I think a more accurate term that describes it would be divine preparation.
In 2008, I was in my third year at the University of Louisville.
My son was one years old at the time.
I was working nights and I showed up one evening I was given an address to clean units for tenants that had not yet moved in, it was a brand new property.
And upon seeing just how beautiful the campus was and hearing a little bit about what they offer went away thinking like, wow, whoever encounters this program be truly blessed.
Three short months later, some circumstances happened that were outside of our control and left me needing to find somewhere for myself and my son to live.
I didn't want to quit school, but at the time it seemed like that was what was going to need to happen in order for me to work full time and provide.
But I remembered that I had an option, so I called the Family Scholar House and about three to four months after that, I was being contacted and told there was a unit available for me.
Family Scholar House impacted my life in a big way, I could have had a very, very different outcome had I not encountered the Family Scholar House.
Would not have gotten a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, a career she's proud of still affiliated with an organization that's making a huge impact in the community.
Maybe not, that may not have been our story.
So I feel like I get the privilege of not knowing what could have been because of Family Scholar House.
My name is Dr. Nwando Olayiwola, I'm a chief health equity officer and senior vice president here at Humana.
When I think about health equity, it is reaching a place where every single person in our country, and honestly in our world, has the opportunity to achieve their full health potential.
80% of your life and your health potential is predicted by things that are unrelated to actually healthcare or medical care.
I'm a family doctor so like being in my office seeing me as a patient, that has very little to do with your healthcare.
The rest is really all these other things, your social needs, your mental health, your behavioral health, your spiritual health, your relationships with your family, your community, your genetics, those things make up so much more of your health than anything else that you do in the hospital or in the clinics.
When I talk about getting to an ideal of health equity, it's when you're looking at someone holistically in the context of all the different dimensions of their life.
And to do that, that means we remove any barriers to full health, and those are things that have historically marginalized or disenfranchised or made communities vulnerable, things like poverty or low socioeconomic status or educational immobility or racism or oppression.
So it's really removing all those barriers to the best health and giving everybody a chance to excel.
The Humana Foundation.
It's always had health equity kind of as a subtext, it may not necessarily have been that we have said we are focusing on this.
But now with an actual dedicated strategic vision and some pillars created around health equity specifically, we're like elevating that work a lot more.
It allows us to find the partners who are working in this space and reach out to them.
It allows us to redefine what does all of our work that's happened over the last 40 years, how does that change because we've had a pandemic that we've lived in and now we have to really rethink of what is health equity now in this context.
One thing we saw with the pandemic was that if you have a system where people are disenfranchised and their communities have been made vulnerable, and you bring a global pandemic, you will worsen every single thing that they've had.
When we look at the future and the next 40 years the Humana Foundation, we will definitely focus on health of equity and making sure that the communities that we are serving are uplifted as a whole.
And I think that's tougher work because it's one thing to kind of focus on the health of a few but when you're thinking about kind of uplifting the health of many, that requires really new and creative ways of thinking. How do we work with cities and towns and urban centers, rural centers across the country, in making places, good places to live.
And we could say like, if you're in a city that Humana Foundation has touched, we expect you to live long, we expect you to live a healthy life, we expect you to live a full life, we expect you, if you have children or grandchildren to see them grow up, because we have made so much about the community around you a better place to be.
I think that's where we're going to thrive in the next 40 years.
So when you think about the Humana Foundation and their commitment to health equity, and then you look at a program like Family Scholar House, I think about how Family Scholar House helped me achieve my best health.
A lot of times when we think about health, we think about physical health outcomes, your blood pressure, your diabetes management, but in my life my mental health has been the biggest driving force behind how I operate.
I think about what that would've been if I was stressed about providing a roof over our head, trying to figure out what I was going to do long term with the career potentially no college education, I would not have been my best self.
And in that season of my life, it was a big deal that a barrier to my best mental health was alleviated.
The Humana Foundation is really helping, when they invest in organizations like the Family Scholar House, they're really helping the community to achieve their best health.

In 2020 and 2021, The Humana Foundation continued investing in COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts, innovating with grantees who are finding new ways to deliver services safely to communities experiencing new and unprecedented need.

As part of its Strategic Community Investment Portfolio, The Humana Foundation invested in twelve community projects to promote food security and financial security in Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas totaling $6 million.

The Humana Foundation invested $3.6 million in 30, Louisville, Kentucky area community projects addressing social detriments of health.

The Humana Foundation also supported communities impacted by natural disaster in 2021, donating over $1.2 million to ten organizations. Additionally, The Humana Foundation continued support for COVID-19 relief and recovery, including promoting vaccination in the community, by donating almost $2 million to 19 community organizations.

As The Humana Foundation moves forward under the leadership of new CEO Tiffany Benjamin, the organization will continue to focus on advancing health equity and making investments that bring real, systems-level change, in alignment with Humana Inc.

Employee Community Engagement

Humana and The Humana Foundation recognize the importance of giving back and the effect it has on the health of our communities, including our own employee community.

In 2021, The Humana Foundation continued its work to cultivate purpose for Humana employees through volunteerism, charitable giving, and scholarships. As always, employees were given paid time off for volunteering, matched charitable giving, and incentives and recognition for tracking volunteer hours in the Humana Together platform.

Humana awarded $708,000 in scholarship money to the children of 237 Humana employees.
Humana awarded $708,000 in scholarship money to the children of 237 Humana employees.

Volunteerism and community involvement are important to our employees, but social distancing kept many home, and economic uncertainty lowered charitable donations nationally in 2020. Despite this, in 2021, 16,400 Humana employees tracked 216,843 hours (about 24 and a half years) of volunteer time across the enterprise. The Independent Sector value of volunteer time for 2021 was $28.54, meaning that our employees contributed an in-kind value of over $6.1 million back into their communities through their volunteer efforts.

16,400 Humana employees took volunteer time.
16,400 Humana employees took volunteer time.

The Humana Foundation matched employee charitable giving donations to almost 3,500 unique organizations, totaling almost $1.2 million. Almost 13 percent of Humana Employees participated in Humana’s matching gift program in 2021.

Humana volunteers plant a garden.

A Group of Humana volunteers builds a garden at Maryhurst, a Louisville-based nonprofit.

Additional resources

Humana’s 2021 Impact Report

Our impact report features activities, progress, metrics and performance for how Humana is advancing health equity, addressing needs in our communities and driving sustainable change with shared value. Download the 2021 Impact Summary here, PDF or download the full version below.