March 29th Call for Community Solutions: Erica Sumpter, Senior Project Manager at Highmark Health introduces the Community Support Platform

by | March 29, 2021 | Past Events | 0 comments

The Forbes Funds was joined by guest speaker Erica Sumpter, Senior Project Manager at Highmark Health. In addition to this digest, a recording of the call can also be accessed at this link.

Opening Remarks from Fred Brown, President and CEO of The Forbes Funds

“Our work and focus on human-centered design work is critical as it represents our pivot from systems change to ecosystems co-creation. To create a viable system requires healthy people.”

Erica Sumpter’s Community Solutions Approach

Highmark Health as a healthcare organization recognizes the need for commuity based orgs, government based agencies, community leaders, and beyond working together to address social determinants of health.

The web of social services is not always intuitive to navigate, and that is why the “Highmark Community Support Platform” was created. Further, Highmark utilizes “Aunt Bertha,” which connects individuals to resources at little to no cost.

The importance of addressing Social Determinants of Health is connected to misdiagnoses, as looking solely at the medical model approach prevents one from seeing the full scope of social issues and their impact on health. The Highmark model includes a social determinants assessment that shepherds care seekers, helpers, and community-based organizations to the community support platform to aid with plugging users into social services.

Sumpter provided a live demonstration of the platform and the details of referral-making, obtaining services, and the registration process for seekers, organizations, and beyond. Organizations can self-register, reach out to Erica, and/or leverage the toolkit (forthcoming) to get set up. Community-based organizations can track their referrals, forms with questions, goals (e.g. finding housing), and more.

Policy Updates from Arthur Pang


There are concerns among investors and economists around an “overheat” of the economy, namely due to stimulus payments and significant scientific achievements such as the vaccine.

An Alabama Amazon plant’s union fight is seen as a proxy for future American unions, given the steep, but achievable climb of a union within one of the world’s largest corporations in a deeply red state that currently pays $15 per hour.

Post-American Rescue Plan passage:

Following the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the paycheck protection program is slated to be extended, along with momentum for paid family leave and potential tax increases on corporations and wealth in future legislation.

Health News

Last week, partially vaccinated people rose 4% and fully vaccinated rose by 3%, with roughly 1.75 million people vaccinated per day. Biden revised his vaccination goal to capture 200 million vaccines in 100 days, doubling the previous figure. At least 34 states are giving all adults access to vaccines by mid-April.

Pfizer also began testing Pfizer on young children to expand to more of the population. Vaccine distributions to low-income countries continues to lag, showing the disparities in global distribution.

Other National Issues

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment has been extended to August 15th, and a friend of The Forbes Funds, Dr. Rachel Levine was confirmed as HHS Assistant Secretary.

Pres. Biden will be in Pittsburgh Wednesday to promote $3 Trilion infrastructure bill, with two bills 1 for physical infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges, expanding broadband), and a second for childcare, healthcare, housing and beyond.

Following shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, there has been discussion on reviving gun control legislation, along with a hate crimes bill as proposed in Congress with no Republican support. This would include a narrower background check and common sense policies.

COVID Changes: Other Considerations

Voting by mail has been expanded as a legitimate means for equitable participation on a level never before seen in the United States.

Telemedicine is broadening digital infrastructure and opening the door to reduced fees, more accessible care.

A domestic, diverse supply chain for distribution of critical goods such as toilet paper, computer chips, vaccines, and more.

There has been a revival of outdoor spaces (parks, porches, drive-ins) as shared spaces for recreation and entertainment.

“The biggest impact for change is each and every one of you on this call. Throughout our past 12 months together, our collective present and our future has dramatically changed. I see this for ourselves, for our organizations, for our communities, and obviously for this nonprofit sector as well.” – Arthur Pang


Half a million more people have been vaccinated. While Pennsylvania still ranks near the bottom nationally for vaccination rates for older adults, it has the second-highest population of adults in the 65+ category, trailing only Florida.

Despite national decreases, COVID case numbers are increasing in the Pittsburgh region, while vaccination numbers are still growing. In response, there is an agreement to test all newly incarcerated individuals for COVID-19 after pressure from legal advocates and community leaders.

Pennsylvania had the highest rate of unemployment for Black Americans, signaling the disproportionate impact, with a reported 1 in 5 Black Pennsylvanians unemployed in 2020.

Pittsburgh Public Schools will be phasing 20,000 students in as scheduled for in-person learning by May 3rd, and 80% of district staff are currently vaccinated.

Finally, the National Endowment for the Arts granted $50,000 each to several Pittsburgh nonprofit organizations.

Closing Remarks from Fred Brown

“We sit at a multitude of intersections where people don’t have answers, and some of those answers reside in the people on this call.”

“None of us have a panacea for the world’s problems, but we do possess the ability to be beacons of light and opportunity for people. It starts with our ability to see each other as human beings.”

“We must, as people, exhibit our humanity. We must, as people, share our attributes with other people. We must, as people, lay way to our own beliefs and seek to understand others for the sake of our very existence. No man or woman is an island, and yet we function as if we don’t need other people. I, for one, need all of you. You represent the ecosystem I exist in.” – Fred Brown

Future Events

You can register for future Community Solutions Calls and programming by The Forbes Funds at this link. Thank you for tuning in!

Forbes Funds tree icon


Submit a Comment

Next Upcoming Event
15 August 2024
  • 00


  • 00


  • 00


  • 00


Organization name and meeting title

Stay in the know with The Forbes Funds!

Subscribe to receive the latest events, news, innovative program opportunities, and more.