Abundance Foundation creates agents of change
Stephen Kahn, MD ’99, believes it is possible to change the face of global health in our lifetime. He established the Abundance Foundation to support a radically collaborative network of visionaries working together to improve global health through education, economic empowerment, and health systems strengthening.
The Abundance Foundation, and affiliated Abundance Funds, have supported numerous projects at Harvard Medical School over the past few years. Its most recent gift, totaling more than $1.3 million, creates two new funds: one to advance global mental health and another to inspire innovation among students dedicated to improving health care.
"The Abundance Foundation, together with Harvard Medical School, is imagining the possibilities of healthy and sustainable communities throughout the world," says Kahn, an emergency medicine physician in Berkeley, Calif., and member of the HMS Advisory Councils on Education and Global Health.
Mental health problems pose a serious and widespread health burden, yet remain a neglected and under-resourced domain of global health, according to Giuseppe Raviola, MD ’01, MPH, director of the Program in Global Mental Health and Social Change at HMS, Psychiatry Quality Program at Boston Children's Hospital, and Mental Health Program at Partners In Health. He and his colleagues have worked to support the development of safe, effective, and culturally sound systems of care in Haiti, Rwanda, and elsewhere, and have pushed for the inclusion of mental health in a comprehensive health agenda for the world's poorest populations, calling it a moral imperative.
With a gift of nearly $1.1 million, the Abundance Fund for the Program in Global Mental Health and Social Change aims to offer a new model of teaching and service that will improve treatment, expand access to care, build human resource capacity, and raise awareness of the global burden of mental health.
"The generosity and vision of Dr. Kahn and the Abundance Foundation is critical in helping us link education, research, and service delivery to turn the dial on this neglected issue, globally and in the U.S.," says Raviola.
With a gift of $228,000, the Abundance Agents of Change Fund instills leadership in and nurtures the skills of HMS students through a series of challenge grants that catalyze creativity and collaboration. In fact, the program requires medical students to team up with students from other Harvard graduate schools to develop out-of-the-box solutions to the health care system crisis.
According to Andrew Ellner, MD ’04, director of the Program in Global Primary Care and Social Change at HMS, co-director of the HMS Center for Primary Care, and an associate physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the architects of this grants program are the members of the Center for Primary Care Student Leadership Committee.
"The Student Leadership Committee is deeply thoughtful about the redesign of health care delivery and education, and committed to the reinvigoration and transformation of primary care," says Ellner. "These future leaders are the extraordinarily capable engineers of this program, from developing the vision to crafting the request for proposals to creating a new curriculum focused on entrepreneurship, community health, and health care innovation."
To create and nurture a diverse community
of the best people committed to leadership in alleviating human suffering caused by disease