YVMC Foundation kicks off community health grant cycle | SteamboatToday.com

YVMC Foundation kicks off community health grant cycle

UCHealth, which joined into a partnership with the Yampa Valley Medical Center in 2017, has pledged $20 million dollars to help fund grants to nonprofits in Routt and Moffatt counties that help with the advancement of health in Northwest Colorado.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The inaugural grant cycle for the Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation’s Community Health Benefit Fund opens Wednesday, Jan 1, 2020, offering up to $275,000 for local nonprofits.

The funding was part of the terms of the 2017 acquisition of Yampa Valley Medical Center by UCHealth, which included a $20 million community-centered “gift” given to the YVMC Foundation.

A task force was then created to determine how best to put the money toward health-related needs in the community.

Mark Fitzgerald, chair of the Community Health Benefit Fund Committee, said he’s excited about the first grant cycle and program designed to last indefinitely.

He said he is also looking forward to seeing what the proposals look like.

“We really want to open the opportunity for everyone to get creative,” Fitzgerald said.

The $20 million will be phased into the YVMC Foundation’s hands over the next seven years, Fitzgerald said, and the committee he chairs will essentially treat the funds as an endowment, using interest earned to create an enduring annual grant cycle open to the community.

The committee is comprised of three other YVMC Foundation board members: Kathy Elliott, Leslie Knuston and Kelly Latterman. It also includes three YVMC trustees, Rich Lowe, Scott Marr and Kathleen Wasserman, and two at-large community members, Donna Mae Hoots and Cory Christensen.

Based on the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment, input from the medical community and the strategic priorities of the fund committee and YVMC trustees, organizations can apply for grants within three funding priorities.

The first priority is to improve access to health care, including physical, mental and behavioral health care.

The second area covers mental health care and “developing and implementing education and prevention resources, as well as programs that promote inclusivity and equality.” The funding area also seeks to “create programs that care equally for the mind and body.”

The only expenditure to date out of the $20 million was gifted through a partnership with Craig-Scheckman Family Foundation, together providing a five-year, $1.375 million commitment to support mental and behavioral health resources in Routt County schools.

The third area for the upcoming grant cycle of care covers substance use disorder and seeks to “expand and strengthen resources to provide education, prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.”

The money is available to existing 501(c)3 nonprofits serving Routt and Moffat counties. The only other criteria are that the grant proposals must fit within one of the three established funding priorities, and the maximum grant awarded to an applicant will be $100,000. Organizations can submit as many proposals as they like, Fitzgerald said.

Those three priorities will continuously be reevaluated and may adjust in coming years to wherever the greatest needs are seen, Fitzgerald said.

Karen Schneider, executive director of YVMC Foundation, stressed just how community based the decision making process is in terms of allocating the funds.

“It’s your friends and neighbors making the decision on how to invest in local nonprofits in order to make everyone’s life better,” she said. “We are taking the gift from the merger and working to make the most of it with local groups and locally-made decisions.”

Schneider also stressed accountability.

“It’s important to us, as a foundation, to steward these funds properly,” she said.

Each grant given will require data-driven feedback and measurable impacts.

“We won’t be investing in something that feels good but has no way of tracking impacts,” Schneider said.

Schneider said the funding has great potential to help make the community healthier and stronger in perpetuity.

“I’m really proud to be associated with this,” she said. “It warms my heart.”

There is a certain amount of flexibility built into the program to give nonprofits the chance to think outside of the box, Fitzgerald said.

“We are counting on the creativity of nonprofits, and in collaborating with other nonprofits,” he said. “We are excited to see what they can come up with.”

Organizations may apply individually or together to reach a shared goal via an online application at yvmcf.org/chbf.

Grant proposals may be submitted Jan. 1 to March 31, 2020, with grant recipients being notified in June. The cycle will begin again in January 2021.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

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