CHI foundation passes major milestone in awarding grants

September 1, 2014


Catholic Health Initiatives has given out more than $55 million in grants aimed at creating healthy communities through its Mission and Ministry Fund, an internal grant program established when Englewood, Colo.-based CHI formed in 1996.

Diane Jones, CHI vice president of healthy communities, said as CHI reached this milestone in awarding funds, she's constantly touched by how grant-funded programs make a difference in the communities they serve. "The Mission and Ministry Fund provides opportunities to explore creative solutions to complex problems. It's a living legacy of our foundresses' vision," she said.

CHI's participating congregations proposed starting the fund. CHI facilities contributed a percentage of their annual revenue, until the fund reached a $100 million balance at the system's 10-year anniversary. Since 1997 when CHI awarded the first grants, the fund has given 409 grants totaling $55.5 million. Earnings on investments keep the fund growing.

Grants awarded July 1 totaled $8.6 million, with two-thirds of those going to programs aimed at preventing violence — a granting strategy that is central to CHI's national campaign, "United Against Violence." Up to 10 percent of the grants can go to international work, Jones said, and support CHI's global partnerships. The recently awarded grants were the most CHI has given in a three-year grant cycle since the fund's founding.

CHI's participating congregations, affiliated facilities and strategic partner organizations are able to apply for money to support innovative projects. Initiatives selected meet identified needs, call for collaboration with community partners and are designed to be replicated in other communities. "The expectation is that it will be sustainable or meet a short-term need that is critical," Jones said.

In 2008, CHI started its major initiative to reduce violence in the U.S., including a commitment to fund anti-violence programs, which it has done through the Mission and Ministry Fund grants.

The Whispering Willows band
The Whispering Willows band, from left to right, Kiley Johnson, Jaden Hennen, Katie Hoehle and Toni Briggs, performs at an Aug. 6 URock Against Violence concert in Little Falls, Minn. A CHI Mission and Ministry Fund grant supports the community's URock music programs for disadvantaged youth. The kids are encouraged to play songs with positive, anti-violence lyrics.

One violence-prevention program CHI awarded a new grant to this year uses music to engage young people. The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls in Little Falls, Minn., received a three-year grant of about $274,000 to support work at the St. Francis Music Center. The center runs a "URock Against Violence" program to provide free music lessons to at-risk youth, and the allocation will help expand that program by funding lessons, supporting efforts to put bands together and teaching bands about ways they can spread anti-violence and anti-bullying messages, said Robyn Gray, director of the St. Francis Music Center. Information from CHI explained that youth in that rural Morrison County region where the music center is located are at risk for drug and alcohol abuse and suicide. The program gives children a way, outside of school and sports, to build their skills, and it offers a creative outlet.

Grants often help fund or expand programs that support disadvantaged people. For instance, the Mercy Foundation, which is part of CHI Mercy Medical Center, runs a Rural Action–Dental Health Initiative in Douglas County, Ore. In school-based dental health clinics operated by the initiative, teams made up of a lead hygienist and two dental assistants provide dental assessment, dental sealants and fluoride varnishing for pediatric patients. A fourth team member, a learning lab technician, educates children on steps they can take to promote good oral health. The Mercy Foundation recently received a new three-year grant of nearly $175,000 from the Mission and Ministry Fund that will give a greater number of children the opportunity to learn about dental hygiene using portable and interactive dental hygiene displays. Previously kindergarten to third graders received preventive oral health education; the new funding will expand the educational component to reach Douglas County fourth to eighth graders, said Lisa Platt, president of the Mercy Foundation.

According to CHI, a 2012 Oregon Smile Survey found children in the lowest household income brackets suffer almost twice the rate of tooth decay as their higher-income household counterparts, but were 30 percent less likely to have seen a dentist in the previous year.

CHI's participating congregations
Twelve congregations of women religious either founded or later joined Catholic Health Initiatives. These congregations support and influence the mission of Catholic Health Initiatives and its public juridic person, Catholic Health Care Federation.
Catholic Health Initiatives has given out more than $50 million total in grants aimed at creating healthy communities through its Mission and Ministry Fund, an internal grant program created when CHI formed in 1996. CHI calls the fund "one of the most visible ways" it lives out the vision of its foundresses.



Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.