Four grant-makers have partnered on a fund to support 14 community projects aimed at addressing health equity issues across the country.
The Advisory Board Company and the de Beaumont, Kresge and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations have formed the BUILD Health Challenge, which will use a collaborative model and encourage communities to build partnerships among hospitals and health systems, community-based organizations, the local health department, and other organizations to improve health outcomes for local residents.
The program seeks to identify and address the social
determinants of health – the non-medical factors that affect health outcomes. These factors are often broad and geographically specific.
BUILD will fund issues as diverse as education, economic opportunity, transportation and infrastructure, public safety and housing. However, they need to focus on issues in the local community to be eligible.
The opportunities for youth serving programs are extensive within the funding parameters. Areas could include early education, nutrition, safe spaces/recreation, leadership, violence prevention, mentoring, among others.
The initiative started as a collaboration between the Kresge Foundation and the Advisory Board Company.
According to Chris Kabel, senior program officer of the Kresge Foundation, the program started with a simple question: “How can we create more multi-faceted partnerships to address social determinants of health?”
The answer led to the formation of the BUILD Health Challenge, and the addition of the de Beaumont Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“Youth serving organizations are expertly positioned for this kind of collaboration,” said Graham McLaughlin, director of community impact for the Advisory Board Company. “It’s the best money spent by institutions. You can’t get further ahead of prevention than childhood.”
The proposals require a partnership comprised of at least one local hospital or health system, the local health department and a non-profit community-based organization who will serve as the lead organization.
The program seeks to change the way in which this country views and treats health by taking a community based collaborative approach. By focusing on prevention, lifestyle and a neighborhood’s social and environmental factors, the health of the community at large can be dramatically impacted.
“We wait for people to get sick before we do anything with them, why are we waiting?” said Brian Castrucci, chief program and strategy officer at the de Beaumont Foundation..
“We need to treat the total population and not just the sick within the hospitals’ four walls.” Mclaughlin stated.
The program does not focus on one issue in particular, but rather innovative ideas that have a local impact on health and can be replicated.
The funders intend to share the best practices learned from BUILD with the field at large, with the goal of better understanding collaborative work and localized efforts.
Kresge, de Beaumont and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations are contributing $1 million each, with the Advisory Board contributing $500,000 to the fund.
Grantees will not only receive monetary support, but technical support as well. Grantees will
receive the expertise and knowledge of the four funders throughout their grant duration.
The Kresge Foundation will also be implementing a $4 million low-interest loan component as part of the program. The Housing Partnership Network will be managing the loan program, as well as contributing $1 million.
In total, 14 community driven projects will receive funding over 2 years, either through grants or loans.
The program is managed through a central website, where applicants can learn more about the program and apply. There will be a series of webinars for interested organizations. First round applications will be due on January 16, 2015.
Judith Fenlon is the editor of the Money and Business Section of the Chronicle of Social Change.