Transforming the Grantee – Funder Relationship

Philanthropy can be so much more than the dollars distributed, and when funders invest with the community and include community voice in the work, we all are better stewards of these resources. Creating a successful partnership between funders and nonprofit requires calculated leaps together, and longer-term and more robust commitments supporting innovation, on-going learning, advocacy, and the facilitation of vital connections. 

At the onset of the pandemic, the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) was approached by Black Rock Center for the Arts (BRCA) for seed funding to reopen their closed facility to serve as a temporary warehouse and distribution center for donated food to be disseminated to the community. All that was needed was funding to bring back the Facilities Manager that was laid-off to safely reopen for nonprofit partners and volunteers to operate.
 As the planning and implementation commenced, the Foundation:

  • Engaged with community leaders and nonprofits to bring on more partners and volunteers to meet the ever-growing need;
  • Frequently presented on the HUB model to community leaders and stakeholders;
  • Created vital connections to address barriers and expand the scope of services;
  • Made additional calculated investments to other nonprofit partners to align the Hub’s work with testing, vaccines, and telehealth; and
  • Personally volunteered to support holiday giving, Easter, Halloween, and other events.

The benefits of HIF’s ongoing collaborative partnership relationship have far exceeded the initial seed funding of just $5,000.

Over the last year, the UpCounty Distribution Hub at BRCA has grown to serve #1200 individuals weekly with comprehensive resources (i.e., activity kits, culturally appropriate and quality perishable and nonperishable foods, sports equipment, COVID safety-kits, diapers and formula, and sanitary kits, etc.) and case management to connect to vital services (i.e., rental services, testing, vaccines, telehealth, etc.). This Hub has also served as a model for (7) seven other regions in Montgomery County to create community-centered, culturally-responsive, and integrated service hubs and will be one of the innovations that has transformed service delivery during the pandemic.

What does it take to transform the funder and grantee dynamic from primarily a transactional relationship to an authentic, collaborative partnership?
 

Some key strategies that HIF has found to be vital are as follows: address systemic barriers; invest in innovation; integrate services and align investments; and provide on-going implementation support.

Address the systemic barriers that are deterrents and create obstacles to service delivery. Funders can utilize their personal and professional networks to connect leaders with resources, information, and social and political capital to navigate these barriers and build lasting trust. Grantees are often unable to fully advocate because of the power dynamics and the dependency on these institutions for future support and access. Philanthropy can serve as the neutral broker in these conversations to help navigate the change.

Invest in innovation serving as a valuable equity incubator. Investors can fund new and/or emerging nonprofit leaders, particularly offering support to BIPOC leaders that have been historically underinvested in, to build their capacity to offer sustainable services. These organizations frequently start off as an all-volunteer run organization and assisting them with this transformation as they grow is imperative. Funders can also support proof of concepts to build credibility and fund community-based strategies that are built with the community versus for community. We have learned repeatedly that just building the program and service is not enough as access requires attentiveness to cultural norms, language capacity, transportation, childcare, employment flexibility, and safety.  Engaging with community on the design of the plan and throughout the implementation is imperative to ensure that these opportunities are accessible by all in the community.

Integration of services and aligning investments is fundamental to ensure continuity of care and enhance efficiency through shared resources and partnership. As funders, we have the opportunity and privilege to meet with so many nonprofits doing phenomenal work, so it is incumbent on us to share and connect. No one organization needs to do it all, but through vital connections and collaboration their participants can have access to it all and each partner can do what they do best. For example, medical providers can have access through collaboration and integrated funding to healthy food and behavioral health services, greatly improving the health and wellness of their patients. Additionally, as the example above highlighted, a Hub can be the collection center of many needed resources to disseminate seamlessly to residents versus a resident having to go to multiple locations to get all that they need.

Provide ongoing implementation support offering opportunities for grantees to continuously engage with funders so that problem-solving can occur. These discussions can lead to advocacy, technical assistance, and/or a chance to offer flexibility around the project design, budgeting, and timing for the project. Through the pandemic, this lessoned was reinforced as our valued partners and systems were adapting to a very dynamic environment. Being embedded in the change enabled us to be the vital support to nonprofits to ensure resources and services were available even if the strategy and modality changed. We were successful together.

As we continue our path to recovery, HIF is committed to advancing our collaborations and partnerships with our nonprofits and fellow philanthropists as we know investments are not enough to yield the change we want to see in our community.

Thank you to all our partners for the journey.

Crystal Townsend

President & CEO

HIF Invests in Vaccination Clinics

Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) is enthusiastic to award $369,564 from its COVID-19 Vaccine Fund. These grants will improve equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine in highly impacted areas of the County through the administration of over 12,204 vaccines fully vaccinating approximately 6,742 Montgomery County residents.

HIF’s short-term, capacity building investment will pilot over #70 place-based vaccination clinics in highly impacted areas of the County to improve vaccine access and address the disparate outcomes for our black and brown residents. Thus far, grants have been awarded to: MobileMed, Care For Your Health (C4YH), and the Chinese Culture and Community Services Center (CCACC) to deploy and coordinate culturally appropriate, place-based vaccination clinics that utilize a variety of vaccine suppliers, community ambassadors and volunteers, food providers, and strategic locations to decrease barriers.

The safety-net clinics will use HIF funds to build the necessary capacities to onboard and train staff, develop locations, administrator the vaccines, and support costs for mobilizing clinics. Through valuable partnerships with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Holy Cross Hospital (HCH), the Federal Government-Federal Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), and with the Maryland Equity Taskforce/National Guard these safety-net clinic partners will gain access to vaccine supplies and valuable technical assistance. We are stronger together and HIF is honored to collaborate with these incredible partners to improve vaccine access for all!

Learn more about HIF’s grant guidelines.

DC Diaper Bank Awarded Grant

Greater DC Diaper Bank Receives Grant to Provide 60,000 diapers to Montgomery County Families

Spring 2020 required swift reaction from community organizations, public policy, and philanthropy to respond to the mounting concerns of COVID-19.  In May 2020, HIF provided seed funding to support the rapid implementation of the UpCounty Consolidation Hub at BlackRock Center for the Arts. The Hub provides necessary food, hygiene items, and COVID-kits for UpCounty families.  It was through this work that HIF was reintroduced to the Greater DC Diaper Bank and the gap they were filling in Montgomery County to provide families with essential items like diapers, wipes, baby gear, feminine products, and formula. 

As the pandemic pushed more and more families into financial hardship, the Diaper Bank responded by providing these essential items to their more than 60 community partners and initiating 19 Diaper Need Hubs in the DC Metro Region. HIF responded by investing in the remarkable work of the DC Diaper Bank to support two Montgomery County serving nonprofits with 60,000 diapers—Family Services, Inc, a program of Sheppard Pratt, and Mary’s Center.  DC Diaper Bank anticipates providing nearly 7 million diapers to families in the DC Metro Region in 2021, with 1.7 million (25%) diapers supporting Montgomery County families.

The Greater DC Diaper Bank will provide nearly 7 million diapers to DC Metro Region
Families. Nearly 2 million of those diapers will go to Montgomery County families.
The DC Diaper Bank also provides wipes, formula, baby gear, and feminine hygiene
products.

The mission of the DC Diaper Bank is to empower parents and babies in need throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia by providing an adequate and reliable source for basic baby needs and personal hygiene products. Of their current distribution partners throughout the DC Metro Region, nearly 40% (#24) are located in Montgomery County. One partner shared, “I can’t tell you how many clients and folks we have made happy with these diapers. We are so proud and honored to be a partner in serving folks with their basic needs. Thank you so much for this partnership that has served so many smiling faces. We used to get begged for diapers, it seemed to be the communities greatest need besides food.” 

To learn more about the Greater Washington DC Diaper Bank, visit their website at greaterdcdiaperbank.org.  

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For additional information about this program or about HIF’s grant investment process, please reach out to Director of Grants and Community Impact at Jess.Fuchs@hifmc.org.

Identity Receives Emerging Needs Investment

HIF invests in Community-based Mental Health Initiative to allow for program expansion and evaluation.

2020 was a hard year for all of us and 2021 looks to continue to be a trying time but there is a light at the end of this COVID-tunnel!  While all of us had to pivot, flex, and adapt in some form, many members of our community were hit much harder.  In particular, our Latino community in Montgomery County have been devastated by the pandemic. Through our Emerging Needs investment cycle, HIF was able to provide early support to Identity, based in Gaithersburg, to allow for the evaluation and expansion of their community-based mental health initiative to respond to this dire need. The community mental health project evaluation work will include collaboration with a team of researchers from the University of Maryland School of Public Health. HIF is proud to invest in community-based nonprofits who are able to offer trusted, culturally-competent programming!  

In Montgomery County, we are fortunate to have reliable community partners who were ready to implement community-based programming to allow for a safe space to heal and thrive.  Early in the pandemic, Identity realized that they would need to accelerate the growth of their mental health support groups by training their non-clinical staff and volunteer parent Promotoras.  Promotoras are Latino community members who receive specialized training to provide basic health education and support.  They are trained by Identity to provide active listening, trauma-informed coping mechanisms, management of stress, anxiety, grief, and supports for children. 

Identity, Inc trains non-clinical staff and volunteer parent Promotoras to
provide active listening, coping mechanisms, and management of stress.

To learn more about Identity and their wide variety of amazing programming, visit their website at identity-youth.org.

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To receive additional information about this program or about HIF’s grant investments, please contact Director of Grants and Community Impact at Jess.Fuchs@hifmc.org.

One More Step on Our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Journey

Over the summer, the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) collaborated with CommonHealth ACTION (CHA) to host focus groups with HIF grantees as part of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) assessment. We had originally hoped to launch this in the spring, but the COVID pandemic derailed these plans and we felt it imperative that we wait until our valued community partners could breathe and fully engage.

As summer fell upon us recovery remained out of sight and the disproportionate impact of the crisis on our black and brown residents was abundantly clear further exemplifying the structural inequities already present in our community. HIF knew that before we could move forward with our fiscal year 2021 funding, we needed to hear from our community partners and decided to forge ahead virtually with the EDI work. We thank and extend our gratitude to the (17) seventeen nonprofits that gave of their time this summer and are excited to share what we learned and how we are responding to the assessment.

EDI Strengths Identified by Partners:

  • Supports nonprofits and their missions.
  • Offers capacity building, provides guidance, support, understanding, and listens to objectives and plans.
  • Furthers EDI work and directs investments to historically underinvested communities.
  • Offers and funds learning opportunities including EDI trainings and webinars.
  • Supports partnerships, innovation, and collaboration.
  • Believes in the power of community supported convenings to give voice to challenges and solutions.

EDI Opportunities Identified by Partners:

  • Provide greater opportunities for grantees to share their perspectives during decision-making processes.
  • Data deadlines and reporting requirements are too demanding.
  • Sustainability policies negatively impact organizations who offer free programs and services.
  • General operating support is needed and the restricted funding prevents nonprofits from adapting and responding to the community.
  • Greater focus needs to be placed on cross sectoral responses to address the social determinants of health.
  • Supports are needed for the health, safety, healing, and restoration of staff.

HIF is proud of the work that has been done and recognizes that our EDI journey continues and initiated some key strategies this fall to further our EDI work. We remain committed to this ongoing internal reflection and evolution so that our investments are not perpetuating the systemic inequities but driving the change we want to see in pursuit of our mission.

HIF’s Fall EDI Journey:

  • Revamped and streamlined our application and reporting processes to better reflect the priorities identified by our grantees and create better efficiencies and less burden on grantees.
  • Convened monthly meetings with the Grants Advisory Committee to continue to keep them informed of the opportunities and challenges faced by our community partners.  
  • Planned for grantee panel discussions with the Foundation staff and board to lend greater voice and share priorities.
  • Surveyed grantees on how they prioritized funding for both their organization and for the community and plan to utilize these results in the grant review.
  • Relaunched our equity webinars to offer opportunities for grantees to share how they are breaking down barriers to ensure access to programs and services.
  • Volunteered in the field with our nonprofits and community to connect and learn how to better support efforts through the Foundation’s investments.
  • Met with all our grantees virtually to revisit where they are and how we can support them in their work and make adaptations to better serve together our community.

We know this journey is not complete and our learning is not done, but with grace, empathy, and persistence we take steps each day towards building stronger and more mutually accountable relationships with our partners and community. Thank you for all that you do each day to support the health and wellness for all in Montgomery County.

Crystal Carr Townsend

President and CEO

Healthcare Initiative Foundation

Food Provider Grantees Announced

Montgomery County awarded $1,126,100 in grants to twenty-eight nonprofits to build additional capacity for their food assistance programs

For a second grant round, the Healthcare Initiative Foundation partnered with Montgomery County HHS, the Montgomery County Food Council, and the Greater Washington Community Foundation to provide nonprofit food assistance providers with funding to support their programmatic operations. Montgomery County issued their press release announcing all twenty-eight grantees on Monday, August 17th. The full release is available below.

For Immediate Release: Monday, Aug. 17, 2020

“Montgomery County has awarded $1,126,100 to 28 local food assistance providers to improve their infrastructure and expand their capacity to provide food access to hard-to-reach communities in Montgomery County during the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This program was funded by the Federal CARES Act as appropriated by the County Executive and Montgomery County Council, the Community Food Rescue mini-grants program, and the newly launched Food Security Fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation.

The COVID-19 Emergency Food Assistance Provider Capacity Building Grant is a partnership between the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Montgomery County Food Council (MCFC), the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF), and the Greater Washington Community Foundation (The Community Foundation). The County’s Food Security Task Force, formed by the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS), reviewed and determined all grant awards. The HIF and The Community Foundation are the fiscal agents for the program and will award the money.

These grant awards will support community nonprofit purchases of refrigerators and freezers, shelving and space enhancements, vehicles, forklifts, hand trucks, computers and software, as well as repairs to existing infrastructure. Funded investments will directly expand these organizations’ ability to store and transport larger quantities of shelf-stable and cold-stored food and are estimated to increase community-wide capacity for food assistance distribution and delivery to over 31,000 households.

“I am proud to be part of a community where our nonprofit and faith-based organizations work tirelessly to ensure our residents have access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food, especially during this national pandemic,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Providing funding to help these organizations improve their infrastructure and increase their capacity to feed more residents is money well spent.”

Special consideration was given to organizations who formed partnerships to better serve the community and provide culturally diverse food access services. Despite funding limitations more than half of the applications were awarded full or partial funding. As the County’s food security response to the pandemic continues, it is anticipated that additional funds will be made available to further support initiatives that address the significant food security needs of our community.

“Food insecurity is currently being experienced by more residents in our community than ever before,” said County Council President Sidney Katz. “So many of our neighbors are feeling the instability caused by the health crisis in so many ways. It is incumbent upon us to provide culturally appropriate food to those in need and these funds will do just that. I want to thank all of the nonprofit and faith-based organizations who are forging partnerships to reach out to the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Nonprofit organizations were eligible to apply for up to $85,000. The organizations receiving grants, ranging from $1,075 to $85,000, are:

Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington, Inc.

American Diversity Group

Bethesda Cares

Caribbean Help Center, Inc

Chinese Culture and Community Service Center, Inc.

Clifton Park Baptist Church

Damascus HELP Inc.

Guru Gobind Singh Foundation

Indonesian American Association

Islamic Center of Maryland

Kingdom Fellowship African Methodist Episcopal Church

Kings & Priests Court International Ministries Inc.

Liberty Grove United Methodist Church

Manna Food Center

Meals on Wheels of Takoma Park and Silver Spring

Montgomery County Muslim Foundation

Nourish Now Inc

Rainbow Community Development Center

Shepherd’s Table

Small Things Matter

So What Else, Inc.

Southern Bethany Baptist Church

Camillus Church Food Pantry

The Living Legends Awards for Service to Humanity

The Salvation Army

Up 2 Us Foundation

Vietnamese Americans Services, Inc.

Women Who Care Ministries

DHHS, along with Montgomery County Public Schools, MCFC, and a network of over 110 local food assistance providers and community partners have been working during the COVID-19 pandemic to address the dramatically increased need for food assistance across the county. To address food insecurity and plan for a greater need, OEMHS created the Food Security Task Force, made up of County staff, community partners and food assistance recipients to create and implement a comprehensive and innovative Food Security Response Strategy.

Montgomery County Government recently partnered with The Community Foundation to launch the Food Security Fund to galvanize private sector and individual support of food access initiatives in the County in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Visit the Food Security Fund website to learn more and contribute. 

For the latest COVID-19 updates, visit the County’s COVID-19 website and follow Montgomery County on Facebook @MontgomeryCountyInfo and Twitter @MontgomeryCoMD.

Put the “count” in Montgomery County! Be sure to complete the Census online, by phone, or by mail. It’s safe, confidential, easy, and important. #2020Census #EveryoneCountsMCMD”

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Media Contact: Mark Hodge, mark.hodge@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Health Equity Report Released

Metropolitan Council of Governments on June 10th released their Health Equity: How Opportunities for Health are Shaped by Race and Ethnicity report. This report is a follow-up to the 2018 Uneven Opportunities: How Conditions for Wellness Vary Across the Metropolitan Region. The Healthcare Initiative Foundation is a proud investor of both the ‘Health Equity’ and the ‘Uneven Opportunities’ reports.

Metropolitan Council of Governments shares, “Health Equity: How Opportunities for Health are Shaped by Race and Ethnicity, is a tool to normalize the conversation on why equity matters and the importance of addressing the conditions that restrict opportunities for good health and economic mobility.”

HIF’s website also includes an interactive toggle map of Montgomery County’s life expectancy and its relationship to median income, level of education, and insurance. To view the PDFs of the Healthy Equity and the Uneven Opportunities reports, click here.

Funding support for the 2020 ‘Health Equity’ report include Healthcare Initiative Foundation, Potomac Health Foundation, Northern Virginia Health Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, and CareFirst Bluecross BlueShield.

Zip Code Ranking Project 2018

Late in 2018, Montgomery County released their Robert Wood Johnson Foundation developed report. According to the Montgomery County press release from November 2018:


“The purpose of this data is to build an equitable response to improving outcomes for all county residents.  We need to improve health and quality of life outcomes for everyone and demonstrate a tracking mechanism that will help us evaluate how our budget, policy and practice are improving outcomes for all residents.  Our goal is to utilize the data to inform our approaches in prevention, promotion, policy, practice, and planning for existing and new health programs that work to meet the public health needs of Montgomery County.” 

Dr. Travis Gayles, Montgomery County Health Officer

To view the report, click here. To view the Montgomery County November 2018 press release, click here.