News and Commentary Macy Foundation Announces New Strategic Funding Priorities

New York, NY– The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation today announced a 10-year strategic plan with three new funding priorities building on decades of knowledge as the only national philanthropy solely dedicated to improving the education of health professionals. The Macy Foundation will now direct its resources toward three core priorities:

  • Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Belonging
  • Increasing Collaboration Among Future Health Professionals

  • Preparing Future Health Professionals to Navigate Ethical Dilemmas

“Our mission is to improve the education of health professionals for a healthier public,” said Macy Foundation President, Dr. Holly J. Humphrey. “As our healthcare system faces increasing pressures, we aim to help support and develop health professionals who are aligned with 21st-century needs for a population that is the most diverse in U.S. history and expected to live longer lives.  We support the complementary and essential roles of both public health and health care.  We must prepare future health professionals to use the new tools of scientific discovery to keep people and communities healthy and simultaneously be prepared to act when people are ill.  The emerging COVID-19 epidemic is an urgent reminder of our need for this expertise.”

The Macy Foundation supports medical, nursing, and other health professions schools, as well as clinical training sites that prepare hundreds of thousands of health professionals each year to care for patients across the United States. After listening and taking stock of what is working in health professions education, the Macy Foundation is doubling down on improving clinical education along with new approaches to incorporating public health into teaching and learning. The Macy Foundation will focus on helping to improve learning environments where clinical care is delivered, including hospitals, community clinics, homes, and other outpatient settings.  The Foundation will support innovative approaches to improving education so that health professionals are prepared to address the health needs of both communities and individual patients.

“If we aim to improve the education of health professionals, we must simultaneously consider the context where the health professionals are learning,” said Dr. Humphrey. “If we focus only on the learners and not on the context, we will miss an opportunity. I feel as if I know what makes a learning environment exemplary because I had the gift of learning and training in such an environment. An inclusive and collaborative learning environment is crucial to the development of future health professionals.”

The Macy Foundation will invest in its three core priorities in the following ways:

  1. Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Belonging:
    To improve clinical learning environments, it is crucial that all members see equity as a priority. Part of this work is eliminating harmful biases both in care for patients and in the interactions of health professionals with one another and with their learners. The Macy Foundation will also help address systemic inequities at the institutional level that reduce career satisfaction and limit advancement opportunities, especially for health professionals from historically underrepresented communities, including people of color, women, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, members of some religious groups, and learners from low income backgrounds.

  2. Increasing Collaboration among Health Professionals:
    Clinical learning environments have historically trained learners as highly skilled, but largely autonomous, professionals. This “siloed” approach is obsolete and should be replaced with environments where health professionals collaborate continuously as a unified team. In addition to promoting collaboration between clinicians, the Macy Foundation will also support a strong role for public health leaders, who play a critical role in promoting community health and preventing disease.

  3. Preparing Health Professionals to Navigate Ethical Dilemmas:
    To succeed today, health professionals need more than clinical skill. They must also be prepared to navigate the complex ethical dilemmas that arise when confronting barriers that conflict with professional ideals and best practices. They need options for where to turn when facing conflicting orders from supervising professionals or from patients and family members. Dilemmas like these occur daily.

“These priorities are essential to improving the clinical learning environments where our future health professionals are training,” said Dr. Humphrey. “I hope that every one of our health professions students, residents, or graduate students learns in an environment where they can provide the highest quality care with compassion and expertise to their patients and communities.”


Since 1930, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation has worked to improve health care in the United States. Founded by Kate Macy Ladd in memory of her father, prominent businessman Josiah Macy Jr., the Foundation supports projects that broaden and improve health professions education. It is the only national foundation solely dedicated to this mission. Visit the Macy Foundation’s website at and follow on Twitter at @macyfoundation.

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