The Chronicle of Philanthropy Profiles the Pioneer Portfolio

Nov 27, 2012, 10:30 AM, Posted by Beth Toner

Beth Toner Beth Toner

Health care is one of life’s most basic needs. It’s so simple. In recent years, though, the subject of health care has also served to polarize our nation. We all need it, but who’s responsible for making sure we get it? How do we ensure it’s safe, high-quality care? What about cost? Vocal, contentious debate over the answers to these questions—and many more—continues unabated in the United States. Meanwhile, in my work as a volunteer nurse at a clinic for the uninsured, I see patients who continue to lack the means to get even the most basic of care, who struggle with chronic disease in a system that seems to throw up obstacles at every turn.

That’s the bad news.

Here’s the good news: Amidst the unproductive noise, countless innovators from all walks of life are quietly going about the work of solving some of the most intractable problems in health and health care. 

Even better: The world is beginning to take notice. In October, The Chronicle of Philanthropy highlighted the work of several Pioneer Portfolio grantees, including:

The Chronicle article underscored the important role that philanthropy can play in innovation. As
RWJF Assistant Vice President, Research and Evaluation, Brian Quinn told the Chronicle, “We face big problems, whether it’s in health, whether it’s in education, whether it’s in the environment, the aging of the population. Those big problems are going to require big solutions."

And this is why I love my job—not because the Foundation’s work gets featured in The Chronicle of Philanthropy (although that’s terrific)—but because I get to meet, and work with, so many of these innovators on a regular basis. Their creativity, their passion, and their dedication to finding solutions—rather than complaining about what’s not working—inspires me on a daily basis.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.