Program investments totaling $3.1 million announced

The Health Foundation for Western and Central New York has made program investments and grants totaling nearly 3.1 million in 2019. These grant making activities reflect the Foundation’s commitment to improving health outcomes for two of the most vulnerable and underserved populations in our regions–older adults and children birth to age five who are impacted by poverty–while also building capacity in organizations to improve health outcomes in our community.

In the first half of 2019, the Health Foundation awarded more than $244,000 to seven local organizations, addressing issues from elder mistreatment to food insecurity to children’s education and health. See the full list of grantees.

Health Leadership Fellows Cohort 10
The Health Foundation has also committed $754,000 to continue its successful Health Leadership Fellows program. Through this program, the Foundation works to develop and strengthen a Network of collaborative leaders within organizations and systems that serve young children impacted by poverty and vulnerable older adults.

Since 2004, the Foundation has supported nine cohorts of Health Leadership Fellows. This new commitment will fund cohort 10, which will begin in 2020.

During the first half of 2019, the Foundation undertook a curriculum review of the program. This review included examining the present program design and its curriculum in light of present and anticipated organizational leadership needs; reviewing present nonprofit organizational leadership trends with an emphasis on networks, collaboration and innovation; and soliciting feedback from past and current Fellows along with other stakeholders.

The freshened curriculum increases the emphasis on network governance and problem-solving and will better integrate the network and the work of the Foundation. In addition, the new curriculum introduces a new program element: six optional intersession workshops delivered by graduates of the Fellows program. Workshops will focus on issues/topics that Fellows often indicate they would like to learn more about including advocacy, equity, and trauma-informed practices.

Recruitment for cohort 10 will begin in the first quarter of 2020.

Expanding Co-Creating Well-Being
The Health Foundation is also making a significant investment to expand the availability of programs and services that address the impact of trauma, toxic stress, and adverse childhood experiences for children five and under impacted by poverty and their families. This will include up to $1.6 million in grants to organizations in western and central New York, to be awarded in 2020, in phase three of Co-Creating Well- Being: Supporting Children and Families Through Trauma. An additional $500,000 will support a learning community where grantees will receive on-going technical assistance.

The Foundation has been committed to improving children’s social and emotional health through projects such as PEDALS and Help Me Grow and supporting the spread of evidence-based maternal and child health interventions. Recognizing that moving further upstream and addressing trauma and toxic stress is a critical next step, the Foundation launched Co-Creating Well-Being in 2018.

This multi-year three phase initiative focuses on:

  1. Expanding the number, knowledge and skills of a spectrum of providers on trauma, toxic stress, adverse childhood experiences, early childhood development and human-centered design.
  2. Improving the approach and skills of providers for better community engagement and inclusion in program/service design and delivery.
  3. Supporting the well-being of providers and helping build capacity for addressing the effects of secondary trauma experienced by providers caring for children and families experiencing trauma.
  4. Gathering the experiences and insights of children and families to improve opportunity for uptake.
  5. Increasing the number and range of programs and services designed to support healing from trauma/toxic stress and support the development of well-being for children and families.
  6. Considering the historical and structural contexts that exacerbate the transmission of intergenerational trauma and approaching this work with a careful and deliberate focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

In partnership with the John R. Oishei Foundation, the Peter & Elizabeth Tower Foundation, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Phase One: Community Capacity Building has been completed. A total of 587 professionals representing 182 organizations from health departments, clinics, and early childhood centers were trained in trauma-informed care and human centered design.

In May 2019, Phase Two: Engaging Community launched. More than 90 community partners will receive advanced human-centered design training and employ the techniques and tools to cultivate knowledge and understanding of the needs, desires and barriers children and families face when addressing the impact of trauma and toxic stress.

Phase Three: Action Through Grants will feature a competitive grant process. Grants will support programs that increase access, availability and spectrum of services and systems that build resilience for children and families. Emphasis will be on developing competencies in areas such as parenting, mental health, coping, self-regulation and understanding childhood development, focused on mitigating the impact of toxic stress and trauma.

During phase three, up to $1.6 million in grants will be awarded to approximately 15 organizations in western and central New York. Monica Brown, the lead program officer for the project, invites other foundations and funders in the region to join the Health Foundation in this important work saying, “My best hope is that other funders will join us to leverage our shared resources to capitalize on the current momentum to mitigate the impact of trauma and build resilience.”