HIF Invests in Identity to Lead MCPS Eco-System Pilot to Provide Trauma-focused Training with Two School Communities
In July 2022, the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) awarded Identity, Inc., a $150,000 grant to implement a two-year Trauma Informed Ecosystem pilot at two schools selected by the Montgomery County Public School system, Magruder High School (Rockville) and Seneca Valley High School (Germantown) starting this fall.
This pilot will encompass working with the entire school eco-system – students, faculty, administrators, families, and community over the next two school years to garner a better understanding of the impact of trauma exposure on students and the school community and develop with the school community practical skills, trainings, and supports to build a more positive school climate.
Phase I will engage the community to develop the workplan for the pilot so that efforts are being planned with and not for the community, as well as provide training on trauma for school personnel, students, and parents/guardians to introduce concepts of ‘trauma’ and how it influences actions and behaviors. During Phase II, each school will begin implementing strategies defined in the workplan and utilize a rapid cycle evaluation to adapt to the real-time needs and desires of the eco-system and share lessons learned with the community.
The University of Maryland School of Public Health and College of Education are the evaluation partners, studying how a trauma responsive community could encourage parent and student engagement; attendance of both students and staff; graduation rates; and reduce suspension and other disciplinary actions. Based on lessons learned, the team expects to share a model that can be adapted to other school communities and their unique eco-systems.
HIF is thrilled to invest in this cutting-edge work. “Identity is an important community partner and we know they will be able to hit the ground running with this Trauma-Informed Eco-system pilot. The team at Identity is already on-the-ground in the schools and a trusted member of our community. HIF looks forward to being among the partners on this journey with Identity, MCPS, and the University of Maryland evaluation team. We believe it will be a great success,” said Crystal Carr Townsend, President and CEO of Healthcare Initiative Foundation.
“Investing in the well-being of young people and the community that helps them reach their highest potential is an investment in Montgomery County. Especially at a time when school communities are particularly stressed, we are privileged to begin this journey with students, parents, educators, evaluators and investors to create a trauma-responsive school community that is unique to Seneca Valley and Magruder High Schools,” said Carolyn Camacho, Identity Program Director
Each spring, Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) identifies one to two nonprofits who exemplify volunteer service in the health and wellness space in Montgomery County. In the last two and a half years, our community has seen the tremendous impact of volunteers through vaccination clinics, food distributions, health clinics, and more.
In June 2022, HIF had the privilege of bestowing the Brooks Saltsman Award to Guru Gobind Singh Foundation and A Place of Hope. Both organizations received an investment of $2,500 to support their health and wellness programming. Brooks Johnstone Saltsman was a former HIF Trustee who dedicated her life to volunteerism. This award recognizing an outstanding nonprofit was created to honor her legacy.
Guru Gobind Singh Foundation launched into the nonprofit service space in March 2020, putting their Sikh principles into practice to help their community as the pandemic surged. Since this time, using more than #100,000 volunteer hours with #400 volunteers, Guru Gobind Singh Foundation has provided hundreds of bags of produce and non-perishable goods, and more than #345,000 vegetarian prepared meals. The Foundation continues to serve knowing that their community has ongoing food insecurity challenges. With this award and its investment, the Foundation intends to provide healthy meals and food to #500 community members while also helping to ensure their access to local medical providers for ongoing health services. To learn more, visit their website.
A Place of Hope is a new and mighty community service provider. A Place of Hope is also dedicated to addressing food insecurity issues in Montgomery County and committed to building a culturally competent healthcare workforce. Since their inception, they have provided meals to #2,000 members of our community while also offering care coordination of resources, training and employment supports, and vaccine administration. With this award and investment, , A Place of Hope will be able to offer Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Geriatric Nursing Assistant (GNA) training to #2 individuals from the black and brown communities in Montgomery County effort to address the growing demand for culturally competent healthcare workers! Follow their work on their Facebook page.
If you are interested in volunteering in our community, make sure to check out Montgomery County Volunteer Center’s page.
“The goal of this platform is to direct attention to specific health issues, educate the public around health, and support the work of local healthcare providers and organizations,” according to My MCM.
HIF invested in My MCM through our FY22 Capacity cycle to build this program to ensure that Montgomery County community members are aware of health and wellness news and programs relevant to them!
Visit the page! www.mymcmedia.org/mcm-health-connect/
Throughout fiscal year 2022, the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) invested $75,000 in small grants to #17 Montgomery County, MD nonprofits to improve and build equitable access to high-quality and comprehensive health and wellness services and programs.
Through the Foundation’s Small Grant cycle, HIF is partnering with #17 nonprofits to serve members of our community on programming for: children in the foster care system; young adults seeking careers in healthcare; pediatric care for Upcounty youth and families; mentorship programs offering haven for youth; and peer support and trainings for the LGBT+ community.
Over the course of the next year, more than #3,000 members of our community will be served with 61% percent of the awards being invested in youth and family services and 41% supporting behavioral health programming.
Two of the nonprofits, Guru Gobind Singh Foundation and A Place of Hope, Inc., were selected for the Brooks Saltsman’s Award for their dedication to volunteer service and healthcare access.
We look forward to partnering with these amazing nonprofits!
Workshop Recordings Now Available
If you were unable to join the two-part virtual workshop series hosted June 14 and 16 or wanted to re-watch the sessions to recapture the information shared, the recordings are now available.
The June 16th session featuring Institute for Public Health Innovation, Montgomery County Food Council, and Montgomery County Volunteer Center will be posted shortly.
The Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) is honored to announce our recent investment of $1.02M to #34 nonprofits serving Montgomery County residents through the FY22 Nonprofit Capacity Building Grant Cycle. These community investments will continue to lift-up the work of our nonprofit partners who remain vigilant in their response to the ongoing health, social, and economic crises wrought by the pandemic, as well as promote recovery efforts focused on community health and wellness and the healthcare workforce.
Congratulations to this year’s HIF grantees! Through our collaborative efforts this year’s recipients are projecting to serve more than #121,800 Montgomery County residents through: Healthcare Access and Behavioral Health Services, Food Security and Hub Distribution Centers, Healthcare Workforce and Education, and Nonprofit Capacity Building.
Our FY22 Capacity Building Cycle prioritized projects that:
- Advance High-quality health and wellness services that are culturally and linguistically accessible: $404K;
- Address the social determinants of health and the root causes impacting our community’s disparate health outcomes: $545K; and
- Support nonprofit infrastructure to respond to the community and advance organizational leadership to build a healthier Montgomery County: $70K.
Accessibility to the Foundation’s investments is paramount and HIF is committed to ensuring that nonprofits whose work aligns with our mission can successfully navigate the grant process. The number of new profits successfully accessing grants, along with number of BIPOC-led organizations, are some of the metrics HIF is monitoring.
HIF is pleased to announce that 29% of the nonprofits awarded are receiving HIF’s Capacity Building grant for the first time and 38% are BIPOC-led organizations.
HIF strives to apply an equity lens in all aspects of our grant-making process by:
- Offering opportunities for our nonprofit partners to provide input on our grant application and processes.
- Incorporating diversity, inclusion, and equity in our grant review matrix along with analysis of how community voice will be engaged with the delivery of services in the application; and
- Assessing with who, in what, and where the Foundation is making its investments.
We are elated to report that 99% of the capacity building investments are going to our priority zip code areas; reaching communities with the lowest life expectancy in the County that have historically been under-invested in and served.
We look forward to partnering with each of these nonprofit organizations for a stronger and healthier Montgomery County.
FY22 Nonprofit Forum – Recording Available
If you were not able to attend HIF’s October 4 Nonprofit Forum, the recording is now available. If you have questions about the forum, please reach out to an HIF Team Member.
To view the recording of the October 4 forum, click here.
A sincere thank you to the community and grant partners who attended and offered candid feedback. Thank you to MCAEL, Crittenton Services, CaringMatters, and Manna Food Center for taking time to help HIF facilitate the breakout sessions during the forum!
To view the PDF of the PowerPoint presentation, click here.
Registration is now open for HIF’s annual grantee training on October 26th from 10-11am. To register, click here.
To register for the FY22 HIF Grantee Training, use the zoom link below.
Additional Opportunity: Grant Portal Walkthrough Training
In an effort to respond to feedback from our grant and community partners, we wanted to offer an additional training on October 29th, to provide an informal walkthrough of our grant portal, Foundant. Anyone is welcome — current, former, or interested grant partners! Jessica Fuchs, HIF’s Director of Grants and Community Impact, will discuss how to create an account, access a user’s dashboard, where and how to access open applications, and answer any questions partners might have. The link to register for this training is here. This opportunity is NOT a requirement of interested grant partners, but rather a supplement to the training with additional insight into our online grant portal.
If you have any questions regarding either the October 26 Annual Grantee Training or the October 29 Grant Portal Walkthrough, email Jessica Fuchs!
Building Equitable Vaccine Capacity
During the pandemic the adage of ‘many hands make light work’ rang true. Through successful community partnerships and strategic investments, the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) and *partners were able to break down barriers to access and build the necessary capacity to administer nearly 13,000 vaccines through #70 vaccine clinics in just (3) three months, fully vaccinate 6,500 Montgomery County residents. Most of the vaccines were administered in communities highly impacted by COVID-19 in collaboration with trusted community partners and leaders who were able to effectively engage our Black and Brown residents and residents who speak English as second language.
The County in March 2021 was seeing disproportionate COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration. An eligible tier at the time for pre-registration was 75 and older. The pre-registration rates for White residents 75 and older was at 73%, while the COVID prevalence was at 25%. Conversely, in the over 75 Hispanic population the COVID prevalence was 40% and yet only 6% of those 75 and older were pre-registered for a vaccine. Similarly, in the Black and African American population 75 years and older, there was a COVID prevalence rate of 19% with only 6% pre-registered. The disproportionate access among race was evident and it was not surprising knowing the connection between race and place that the pre-registration data also showed that the County residents gaining access to the vaccine were not from the most highly impacted communities.
Seeing this disparity, HIF proactively in early March requested proposals from our safety-net health providers and the HIF Board created a Vaccine Fund to respond to these proposals. The Foundation fully understood the complexity of the vaccine supply and the tiered eligibility. We also knew from past implementation roll outs with the Health Exchange, COVID-19 testing, etc. that it takes time to build capacity and we wanted our trusted nonprofit safety-net partners to be at the planning table and primed for scalable implementation so infection rates could be stalemated, and lives could be saved in the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
Utilizing the proposals, the HIF team built an implementation plan that allowed for contiguous input from the nonprofit partners that identified the safety-net vaccine administrator, vaccine supplier source (e.g., County, Federally Qualified Health Centers, State of Maryland’s Equity Taskforce, Holy Cross Health System, Safeway Pharmacy, etc.), location of the vaccine clinic, date of occurrence, and available community food or outreach partner as appropriate. HIF then proposed the plan to the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that was approved for execution.
In late March, HIF awarded $369,000 to MobileMed, Chinese Culture and Community Service Center (CCACC), Vietnamese American Services (VAS), Korean Community Services Center (KCSC), and Care 4 Your Health (C4YH) to develop and provide community-based vaccine clinics in COVID-19 highly impacted areas of the County to improve vaccine access and address the disparate outcomes for our Black and Brown residents.
At the time of the HIF grants awards, public dollars were anticipated to be forthcoming. As a funder we had the ability to respond nimbly and quickly to save lives making funding available expeditiously to trusted community partners. We also knew that this frontend capacity building investment was essential to onboarding and training staff, site development, process management, establishing quality and safety measures, and identifying multiple access points for vaccine suppliers, so that when funds became available there was the capacity to scale up efforts.
Through the planning and implementation phases, HIF facilitated weekly convening meetings where partners provided updates, shared new barriers and successes, and became each other’s champions. As the pilot progressed, the collaborations grew stronger with additional safety- net providers like Casa Ruben, Global Sustainable Partnerships (GSP), and ANGARAI CARES CBO joining the collaborative effort along with health systems and insurance carriers.
The partners have continued to meet weekly even after the conclusion of the HIF grants with the goal of reaching all residents that have not yet received the vaccine. HIF is proud of what these community leaders and partners have accomplished over the (3) three months and the efforts that they are continuing to lead with public investment.
As we reflect upon this work, HIF and the vaccine partners identified (7) seven pillars of success which can help lay the foundation for future community centered approaches for equitable access to care.
Pillars to Addressing Equitable Vaccine Access
- Lead with Trusted Community Partners and Leaders – It is critical to partner with community organizations that residents trust at the onset of planning if you want to transform the systemic barriers to access to care. Community organizations are led by leaders trusted by and often from the community with strong reputations of offering services with integrity. For addressing vaccine access, this necessitated HIF to invest on the frontend partner planning and coordination efforts so that the deployed strategies centered community voice and patient needs and were designed with community. This advanced planning enabled the healthcare safety-net providers to collaborate with the faith community, food distribution sites, grocery stores, businesses, neighborhoods, other nonprofits, and with community organizers to bring the vaccine clinics where residents were already engaged. It also required funding trusted community ambassadors and case managers with the cultural understanding and linguistic capacity to assist with navigation, address concerns, help with the registration process, and connect with health providers for medical advice. Through the HIF grant to CCAC, VAS and KCSC were provided subgrants to provide culturally and linguistically centered patient navigation services for the CCAC ‘s vaccine clinics. In addition, HIF outside of the Vaccine fund granted GSP and Identity, Inc. funding to support culturally and linguistically centered community outreach efforts around vaccine education and vaccine access.
- Integrate Service Delivery – Many of the safety-net partners shifted their models from having residents come to them in the more traditional clinic model to going to where residents were accessing services such as food distribution locations, health fairs, grocery stores, businesses, community events, faith services, etc. Further, as opportunities presented, additional services were integrated into the clinic outreach days such as vision exam for children, health screening, other immunizations, etc. This advanced collaboration and resource sharing amongst nonprofits made multiple services more readily available to the community. Moving a clinic model to community takes multiple site visits and advance planning particularly as you concentrate on the safety planning and the flow of operations. Through effective collaboration and planning, ANGARAI CARES CBO, American Diversity Group (ADG), KloudData, and DHHS partnered to successfully launch a community service organization in the Plum Orchard area of Silver Spring to provide critical services out of a single center in English, Spanish, Amharic, French, and Mandarin-Chinese. These services include food distribution; free COVID testing; COVID vaccination; and chronic disease management clinics.
- Convene Collaborative Strategic Planning and Build Partnerships – Philanthropy serves a vital role as neutral convener bringing partners together to assist with the planning and service integration. We know that successful collaboration takes time and support is needed beyond grant dollars for planning, information sharing, and implementation. For these projects, HIF designed the initial implementation plan integrating the proposals from the (3) three safety-net clinic partners to create a comprehensive plan for addressing the inequitable access to vaccines. The implementation plan was approved by DHHS and subsequently updated weekly enabling the foundation and partners to coordinate and ensure that these resources were being deployed strategically to highly impacted communities. HIF also hosted weekly partner-led provider meetings to allow a safe space for learning, collaboration, continuously planning, and support. The vaccine partner group has affectionately named itself, ‘Rebels with a Cause,” leaders working towards systems transformation. Through this collaboration, they celebrate each other’s successes and bolster one another during hardships. One of the partners, GSP, was working for several months to expand their integrated diabetes and vaccine education community outreach program into Montgomery County to serve Black and Brown residents. The partners rallied around GSP, offering encouragement along the journey, and celebrated with GSP when they reached the pivotal milestone of their getting their request for a bus approved.
- Strengthen the Healthcare Workforce – Training our future healthcare workforce on community centered approaches built around cultural and linguistic needs is paramount. At the onset of the vaccine partnership, HIF engaged with Montgomery College and The Universities at Shady Grove to connect nursing students with the community-based vaccine clinics. This collaboration not only increased the capacity of the safety-net partners to offer efficient and effective clinics, but also allowed valuable training opportunities for nursing students on community-based responses, safety protocols, pop-up clinic operation, and quality patient engagement. Many nursing students were unable to work directly with patients for over year because of the pandemic missing vital experiential learnings and these clinics helped many students regain their purpose and passion for nursing and passed along crucial skills. One example of this is MobileMed, utilizing Montgomery College nursing students to help staff up their vaccine clinic at the Lakeforest Equity Center (LEC). The pre-registration was done the day before the clinic by the LEC team during their food drive-up event by trusted community organizers. The day of the clinic, Nourish Now offered additional food resources for participating residents. Each of the partners utilized their strengths to offer training to future healthcare workers and provide comprehensive and integrated services for vaccines and food distribution that were culturally centered at a trusted provider location where residents were already accessing services.
- Accessible and Flexible Service Delivery Models– Flexible approaches are needed when countering access barriers to care. No one can do it all but making investments strategically that meet the continuum of care for the entire population is vital. Working with community partners, HIF invested in the multiple strategies for vaccine administration funding partners to offer vaccines in the home, in the community, at their clinics, and with partner organization to ensure the right delivery model was offered to meet the resident’s individual and household circumstances. C4YH patients are primarily Hispanic residents over 65 and many were homebound and did not have the capacity to go outside of their homes for the vaccine. The younger members of the community had severe transportation barriers making it difficult to community to get to the needed services. Additionally, most of those that were employed could not leave their jobs to receive services. Understanding these challenges, the C4YH leadership designed the safety workflow and protocols to offer vaccines in the home, in the community after-hours, and on the weekends. This innovative approach made access available more quickly to those that did not have access through the mainstream offerings.
- Fund Diversified Partners – Investment in diverse and multiple partners to manage the vaccine education and vaccine process allowed for services to be delivered in culturally and linguistically respectful ways. HIF and the partners were cognizant that there were going to be unforeseen barriers that emerged during the implementation and there was a commitment to work through these together. CCAC partnered and gave subgrants to Vietnamese American Society (VAS) and Korean Community Services Center (KCSC) knowing that language and cultural norms may circumvent residents from coming to their clinic. Working with VAS and KCSC they were able to work through these intrinsic challenges and build bridges of trust and connect residents with vaccines.
- Build the Capacity of the Healthcare Safety-Net – HIF intentionally funded healthcare nonprofit providers to build the capacity for the safety-net health clinics to both scale-up their services locally and engage more residents in long-term health services. By having a nonprofit medical provider in the community offering the vaccines, residents have become more aware that healthcare is available, and they learn how they can be connected to a medical provider and gain access to health coverage. An example of this is the efforts being led by Dr. Ligia Peralta, founder of Casa Ruben, who is a strong advocate and a pediatrician. Through her work, she is ensuring that children not only receive the COVID-19 vaccines, if eligible, but that children are also linked to care and up to date on all their immunizations which in many instances have lapsed due to the pandemic. Working with a trusted a community provider is key, and the UpCounty Distribution Hub has collaborated with Dr. Peralta to join them as a part of their food distributions taking place in the community. These integrated clinic and food events further offer valuable opportunities to engage caregivers in discussions about health coverage and healthcare resources available for themselves and their children. Another partner, CCAC through their vaccine clinic engagements, was able to enroll #150 Montgomery County adult residents, that had no prior healthcare, into Montgomery Cares connecting them with health coverage and consistent medical care. We have always known the vital importance of connecting residents with consistent healthcare and now seeing the harmful impact of COVID-19 on individuals with pre-existing conditions the necessity of quality healthcare access for all is even more abundantly clear.
Thank you to all the collaborative partners that are our community heroes! The progress made in these initial months provided the seminal foundation for countering the disparate inequities in getting access to the vaccine.
*MobileMed, Care 4 Your Health (C4YH), Chinese Culture and Community Service Center (CCACC), ANGARAI CARES CBO, Vietnamese American Services (VAS), Korean Community Services Center (KCSC), Identity, Inc., Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Holy Cross Health, Global Sustainable Partnerships (GSP), Nourish Now, American Diversity Group (ADG), Casa Ruben, Montgomery College, The Universities at Shady Grove (USG), Gaithersburg Cares Hub, LakeForest Equity Center (LEC), and UpCounty Consolidation Hub at BlackRock Center for the Arts
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.
President & CEO