Grantee Spotlight: CBO Consortium of Upstate New York

This spotlight first appeared in the Health Foundation’s 2020 Annual Report.

The Health Foundation has long believed in the importance of increasing community health capacity—the ability of our region’s nonprofit organizations and health care systems to meet the needs of the people they serve. In 2020, the significance of that work became clearer than ever as resources, funding and support for health care and community-based organizations were severely strained by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

We are proud to have supported several initiatives in 2020 that are meeting the most pressing needs of community-based organizations during the pandemic, while continuing to support programming that takes a long-term approach to increasing community health capacity.

The CBO Consortium of Upstate New York was founded in 2018 by Healthy Community Alliance Inc. to support community-based organizations in the rapidly transforming health care and wellness delivery system. “Rapidly transforming” was an understatement for many of these organizations in 2020.

When the pandemic first began to make an impact on our community, the Health Foundation asked the CBO Consortium to survey their members to determine their most significant needs. The results showed that many community-based organizations urgently needed assistance in technical infrastructure and capacity.

“These organizations were facing a variety of challenges—budget cuts, staffing reductions and, often, an increase in demand for services—plus a huge learning curve in moving their work to a virtual environment,” says Tony Sanfilippo, CBO Consortium Manager. In response, the CBO Consortium collaborated with the Health Foundation to launch a series of tech-readiness webinars that offered expert advice and counseling on a number of topics addressing those technical challenges.

“At first, we were hearing organizations saying they needed help with the basics—setting up cloud storage, holding meetings by video conference,” says Tony. “As the pandemic progressed, and these groups moved into the next stage of response, their challenges—and our programming—became more complex, including cybersecurity issues, moving to online fundraisers, and how to stay on mission in a virtual world.”

The CBO Consortium’s upcoming plans include a toolkit and self-assessment for community-based organizations to identify their IT maturity level—their current capacity for technological readiness—and how they can continue improving their readiness.

“EPIC staff have benefited from the sessions and collaborations that have been offered through the CBO Consortium. As we move forward in this new world, we are thankful for the collective learning and opportunities shared through this group.” -TARA BURGESS, EVERY PERSON INFLUENCES CHILDREN (EPIC)