In 1968, community health care providers, dismayed by the state of health care in the inner city of Indianapolis, founded the Metropolitan Health Council of Indianapolis. This organization originally focused on developing and funding community health centers in low-income neighborhoods. In 1974, the Council established and operated MetroHealth Plan, a publicly owned health maintenance organization (HMO), until its growth and increasing competition inspired them to sell the plan in 1985. The board of directors used the proceeds from that sale to found The Health Foundation, now known as The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis.
As a philanthropic organization, the Health Foundation shifted its focus to grant-making efforts, with a new determination to continue its earlier mission to address the health needs of the disadvantaged. Funding initiatives have evolved over the years to meet changing health needs, such as pushes to provide health care within thesystem for students not getting vital health services elsewhere.
The Foundation has consistently committed resources to support HIV/AIDS research and public education, even in the midst of controversies in the late 1980s. It partners with AIDS United and the Indiana AIDS Fund, serving as the key sponsor of Indiana AIDS Walk and Spotlight, a fundraiser highlighting performers from Central Indiana. These two annual events have brought the Indianapolis community together for decades to support the cause.
In the late 1990s, the Foundation created the HIV/AIDS direct emergency financial assistance (DEFA) fund to provide Hoosiers living with AIDS direct care management assistance through the(an Indianapolis AIDS support center), the Infectious Disease Clinic, and the LifeCare program at Methodist Hospital (the largest provider of comprehensive care and preventive services for individuals living with, exposed to, or at risk for HIV in Indiana). The Foundation also has syringe services to combat the social breakdowns caused by injection drug use.
Between 1985 and 2019, the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis granted more than $21.5 million to service providers and healthcare organizations across Indiana.