This New England Funder is Looking for Holistic Community Projects to Build Health

The truth is, most grants in this country are awarded by foundations that aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel—or cure cancer, for that matter. As much as we love to crow about some hot new funder that just stepped on the scene, most foundations are just looking for ways to make a difference. Many of them are small and modest. But modesty can sometimes be a huge asset for a foundation tackling a persistent problem with lots of ins and outs. They want to be there for the long haul, so they start small, and spread their money widely.

This is what the Tufts Health Plan Foundation appears to be doing. Based in Watertown, MA, the foundation was established in 2008 with the intent of using the Tufts Health Plan’s assets to improve health issues in the communities in which it operates. It’s a young foundation, to be sure, but since the beginning, it’s had a clear and humble focus: to improve the process of aging for adults throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

In line with that goal, its latest RFP is a call for community-heavy projects that improve the quality of life for all citizens “across the lifespan.” As is typical of the THPF, it’s seeking projects that deal with the built environment, employment, food, housing, transportation, communication, even social and civic participation. THPF is one seriously holistic foundation: It understands that mental, spiritual, and physical health doesn’t come from a bottle or an IV drip. Lasting community health can only be achieved by building lasting, population-savvy community programs.

Two key sub-programs within this project are highlighted: a program for Community and Civic Engagement, which seeks projects that “address or support a specific issue/action that strengthens an issue or leads to change(s) in the communities they serve.” Also on the docket, a program for Access to Programs and Services, that “supports activities that provide access to transportation, information, and greater awareness abut how older adults can improve their lives, health, and well-being.”

Oddly, no dollar amount is set. The THPF feels that applicants should simply request the money they need, and let the foundation decide.

To be eligible, organizations must be considered tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and serve communities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Letters of Inquiry must be received no later than July 20, 2015. Upon review, select applicants will be invited to submit full proposals by September 20, 2015.

See the Tufts Health Plan Foundation website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.