Fifty years after the birth of community health centers, the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation (the Foundation), under the leadership of Foundation President Robert K. Kraft,  today announced a gift of $5 million, which enables the establishment of a permanent endowment to recruit, train and retain future leaders in the community health center system.  Kraft family gifts to Partners HealthCare for community health improvements, now totaling $20 million, created and will now endow the Kraft Family National Center for Leadership and Training in Community Health (the Center). This represents the largest private contribution in support of the state’s network of community health centers, which  now treats more than 900,000 Massachusetts residents each year.

“The increasingly critical role of community health centers in our nation’s health care system and the success of the Center in training community-based health care leaders have convinced us of the importance of continuing the Center in perpetuity,” said Robert Kraft, founder, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group.  “Our belief is that every person should have access to the same life-saving, life-changing care that our family has been lucky enough to receive at Brigham and Women’s, Mass General and other world-class medical institutions in New England.  We believe the Center will help make that a reality.”

“Health centers are an increasingly important part of providing care to our communities,” said David F. Torchiana, MD, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare.  “This gift will help us continue to attract the best clinicians to community-based care, which is vital to the health of  historically underserved populations.”

The permanent endowment  was announced at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate during a 50th anniversary celebration of community health centers, which have succeeded in expanding access to quality and affordable primary and preventive healthcare services to millions of uninsured and medically-underserved people throughout the country. 

James W. Hunt, Jr., the president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and the convenor of the 50th anniversary celebration, said “The Kraft family’s extraordinary leadership and commitment to high-quality health care for everyone – regardless of income, race, ethnicity or orientation – is a true reflection of the mission of community health centers. This gift recognizes the vital role community health centers play in delivering on that commitment. This generous gift is a most worthy way to continue Senator Kennedy’s powerful example of how to make a difference in people’s everyday lives. We are exceptionally grateful to Robert Kraft and his family for providing a transformative gift that will help fuel our next 50 years. In recognition of this tremendous support of the workforce needs of community health centers, we are honoring the Kraft family with the “Community Service and Philanthropy Award.”  

The increasingly critical role of community health centers in our nation’s health care system and the success of the Center in training community-based health care leaders have convinced us of the importance of continuing the Center in perpetuity. Our belief is that every person should have access to the same life-saving, life-changing care that our family has been lucky enough to receive at Brigham and Women’s, Mass General and other world-class medical institutions in New England.  We believe the Center will help make that a reality.

Robert Kraft Founder, Chairman, and CEO of the Kraft Group

The Center, based at Partners HealthCare, was founded in 2011 through an initial community health gift from the Kraft family of $15 million. The Center works to develop community-health leaders by developing sustainable career paths for mission-driven young physicians and nurses. Through its relationship with the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, MGH, Brigham and Women's and the Harvard School of Public Health, the Center has created two training programs that blend community health center practice with formal and informal curriculum, mentorship and engagement in a peer community. 

Fellowship Training Program

The Kraft Center for Community Health Leadership’s Fellowship offers medical residency graduates from internal medicine/primary care, family medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry the opportunity to provide direct clinical care to patients in community health centers, earn a Masters of Public Health degree at the Harvard School of Public Health, develop a community health improvement project, receive mentorship from community health and academic medicine leaders and engage with peers through a virtual learning community.

Practitioner Training Program

The Kraft Center for Community Health Leadership’s Practitioner Program offers early career physicians and nurses already practicing in community health centers support for focused, non-clinical time in order to advance their leadership and management skills. Specifically, the practitioners participate in a community-health curriculum provided by the Center, develop a community health improvement project, receive mentorship and engage in a peer community.

The Center works in close collaboration with 26 community health centers across the Commonwealth and, to date, has provided training to 63 emerging community health leaders. Since its inaugural class began in 2012, it has demonstrated “proof of concept” in that 92 percent of its graduates continue to practice in community health and many have moved into positions of leadership and greater responsibility.

“We care about this country, and our family is proud to support this amazing pipeline of future community health leaders in perpetuity,” said Kraft. “It’s what our family is all about.”