FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions. Want to partner with us?  Learn about our funding opportunities.

About the Health Foundation

What does the Foundation do?

We work together with our community partners to design and support programs to improve health outcomes for the most vulnerable and underserved populations in our regions – vulnerable older adults and children ages birth to 5 impacted by poverty. Learn more about What We Do.

Where does the money for the Foundation come from?

In 2001, Univera Health Care merged with Excellus, a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan based in Rochester, NY. As a result of that merger, the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York was created and endowed with assets that originally totaled an estimated $100 million. We changed our name in 2012 and are now known as the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York.

How much is the Health Foundation’s endowment?

Our endowment is approximately $120 million.

Where does the Foundation make grants?

We serve 16 counties, including Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties in western New York, as well as Cayuga, Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego and Tompkins counties in central New York.

Is the Foundation regulated?

The Health Foundation is a private foundation that is classified as a 501(c)(3) organization.

In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service requires that private foundations:

  • Pay out at least 5 percent of their endowment annually
  • Pay an excise tax of 1 or 2 percent on their net investment income
  • Ensure that grant dollars are used for a charitable purpose

All private foundations must file Form 990-PF with the IRS annually.

Our Grantmaking

What do you fund?

We consider funding programs that are in line with our mission, vision and values, and support one or more of our three focus areas:

How did the Foundation decide its funding priorities?

When the Foundation was formed, trustees already had considerable experience with health and health care, particularly for underserved populations like vulnerable older adults and children impacted by poverty.

With the first foundation president named in 2003, we spent nearly a year working to identify the needs of communities across both regions, conducting environmental scans and gathering input from residents, community leaders and area experts.

This early research told us that the problems around health and health care in our regions were overwhelming, and our resources weren’t enough to fix all of of them.  Therefore, we had to narrow our scope.  

So we chose to look at this immense challenge through the eyes of two groups of the especially vulnerable in our communities, – children in communities of poverty and the frail elderly –  by working to improve their health care and quality of life, and by keeping their overall best interests in mind.  Since that time our focus has sharpened to vulnerable older adults* and children ages birth to 5 impacted by poverty.

Why does the Foundation only fund in western and central New York?

Univera Health Care (formerly Health Care Plan in Buffalo, NY and Health Services Management Corporation in Syracuse, NY) served members in eight counties in western New York and eight counties in central New York, with a 60-mile gap between the regions.

When Univera was acquired by Excellus, the New York State Attorney General approved setting up a foundation to benefit the residents of the geographic areas where the acquired HMOs had been operating, which was in western and central New York. The Rochester area is served by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

Why does more of your funding go to organizations in western New York?

The Foundation has an allocation formula for its spending targets between western and central New York that relates to:

  • The asset value that each of the original regional HMO partners brought to their merger when they were purchased by Excellus BlueCross/BlueShield; and
  • The relative populations of the two eight-county areas.

The allocation formula results in a spending ratio of slightly more than 2:1 for the western New York region compared to the central New York region. Our Board of Trustees has the authority to make exceptions to this allocation for particular projects.

How can I apply for funding?

To learn more about how you can send us your request for funding, read through Our Grantmaking Process page.