CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, May 10, 2021 – Rush University System for Health and BMO Financial Group today announced a $10 million donation to create the new Rush BMO Institute for Health Equity. With a mission of eliminating health inequities and helping people live longer and healthier lives, the Rush BMO Institute for Health Equity will leverage Rush’s strengths in patient care, research and education; operational and philanthropic investment; and community partnerships to increase the health and vitality of neighborhoods Rush serves.
Recognizing the injustice of growing gaps in health outcomes, locally and nationally, Rush University System for Health became one of the first academic health systems to make health equity a strategic priority. Now — thanks to this gift from BMO Financial Group — that work has a home with the establishment of this new Institute.
The mission of the Institute is to reverse a harsh reality: In Chicago, a five-mile difference between neighborhoods could adversely affect a person's life expectancy by up to 12 years. It’s the largest gap in the country, and an unacceptable truth.
“To truly have an inclusive society with health and economic opportunities for all, we need to remove barriers to health, and that’s exactly what the Rush BMO Institute for Health Equity will do,” said David Casper, U.S. CEO, BMO Financial Group. “At BMO, our purpose is to boldly grow the good in business and life, and we know that by partnering with Rush, we’ll be able to help reduce health care disparities in Chicago, with the potential to create a roadmap for health equity nationwide.”
The announcement builds off of BMO’s recent $10 million donation to the United Way Neighborhood Network program as part of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s INVEST South West initiative, as well as the recent announcement of BMO EMpower, BMO’s five-year, $5 billion commitment to help create an inclusive economic recovery.
"Chicago has a long, painful history of health inequities that have plagued our communities of color on our South and West Sides," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "This institute will disrupt that history by improving the quality of life of our residents who have borne the brunt of these inequities and drastically reduce the life expectancy gap between our high- and low-income neighborhoods. I want to thank Rush and BMO's leadership for choosing to invest in the lives of our residents and giving them the resources they need to live longer, healthier lives."
“Rush has a long-held commitment to improving the health of the communities we serve. Now, we’re building upon our foundation of strong community-based programs and partnerships,” said Dr. Omar Lateef, CEO and president, Rush University Medical Center.
“The Rush BMO Institute for Health Equity, our most concentrated investment in health equity yet, will allow us to organize and coordinate all of our strategies for eliminating health inequities under a single umbrella. We thank BMO for their incredible generosity, and we look forward to a long and impactful partnership together.”
The communities Rush serves include Chicago’s diverse West Side, which has more than 600,000 residents in 10 neighborhoods, a population greater than that of Atlanta. To make the greatest impact on their health outcomes, the Institute will focus on the following four key areas:
- Education and workforce development, ensuring that each of Rush University’s 2,200 students is exposed to coursework that increases their understanding of health disparities, and expanding career pathways for West Side residents.
- Community-based clinical practice to reduce residents’ rates of risk factors for chronic diseases, including Rush’s successful School-Based Health Center model, which will serve more than 1,600 students at five Chicago Public Schools.
- Community engagement, with a focus on sustained partnerships to provide support to address community issues such as food security, mental health, addiction, and weight loss.
- Health equity research, increasing community members’ participation in Rush-led research by embedding studies in trusted neighborhood settings and supporting health equity fellows each year.
BMO Financial Group’s commitment is the largest-ever gift to Rush in support of health equity initiatives. Its support is critical in realizing Rush’s Anchor Mission Strategy to measurably decrease health disparities and improve health outcomes and economic vitality in the communities Rush serves.
This donation is the lead gift to health equity in Rush’s current philanthropic campaign. With a projected goal of $650 million, the Campaign for RUSH focuses on advancing programs where Rush is well-positioned to improve the Chicago region's health. These campaign priorities include neuroscience, bone and joint, cancer, education and workforce development, innovation and discovery, and health equity. The launch of the Rush BMO Institute for Health Equity is a critical initiative of the campaign, which aims to raise at least $70 million, including BMO’s gift, in support of the Rush BMO Institute for Health Equity.
Previously, BMO donated $5 million to Rush in 2013 to help educate and train students for new health care jobs needed to deliver high-quality, coordinated health care to Chicago’s South and West side communities. The program has increased understanding of health disparities, educated the current and future health care workforce, linked employers to training, and prepared individuals to conduct independent research. The success of that program helped lead to today’s announcement.