Mission & Vision

At Upstream we believe that smart policies are the best way to create communities that help people lead healthier, fuller lives. We seek out the most innovative broad-based public health solutions that are backed by science and research, move them into the mainstream dialogue, and build momentum for change. Our goal is to address the most pressing health issues and improve people's wellbeing, one policy at a time.

Our Vision

Upstream acts as a catalyst to drive healthy changes, making Oregon a better place to live, work, study, and play. All Oregonians – whether urban or rural – should have access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity. We envision an Oregon where people are living happy healthy active lives and reaching their full potential.

Our Approach

Upstream advances policy solutions designed to change the systemic conditions that contribute to poor health.  We conduct research, educate key decision makers, create influential coalitions, and elevate public health and health equity issues through public forum and advisory groups across the state and region. Our name comes from an analogy used by John McKinlay in an address to the American Heart Association in 1974. Imagine a rapidly flowing river where people are constantly rescuing drowning victims, but they have not looked upstream to see what is causing people to fall into the river. Upstream does exactly that: we work on upstream factors to create a new paradigm for public health. 

Why Health Matters

Good health is the foundation for any person seeking to reach their highest potential. Good health increases access to continuous employment and academic success. Good health minimizes our risk of preventable illnesses. Everyone deserves the opportunity to become the best person that they can be.

Upstream’s work focuses on the social determinants of health - the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels. The social determinants of health are largely responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries. We work to close the opportunity gaps. 

Our Goals

• Promote policies within public, private, and community sectors that improve health.

• Provide credible, accurate, and timely information about the health of Oregonians.

• Promote broad understanding of the connection between public policy and public health.

• Reduce health disparities.

• Build community support to expand our reach.

• Be a vehicle for all people to improve their health and the health of the people they care about.

Upstream's 2015 Policies & Programs