Ramping Up: The St. David's Foundation

The St. David’s Foundation (SDF) in Austin, Texas, is a typical community health foundation in a lot of ways. It started out in 1926 as a church-run hospital, and in 1996, it turned over its assets to HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) and founded the St. David’s Foundation. Now the foundation is a joint owner of St. David’s Healthcare (the hospital system), which is where it gets its money.

It likes to give modest grants: In 2012, most of its grants were under $100,000, with just four breaking the $1 million ceiling. (Note: two of those were for mental health.)

But it stands out from the pack in a number of ways. For starters, SDF has a big dental health initiative to which it gave $5.3 million in 2012. You just don’t see that every day. For another, it’s been ambitiously upping its grantmaking, year-by-year, which is exciting for a young-ish foundation. The foundation gave $3.1 million in 2005, and this year, it expects to hit the $50 million mark.

It also stands out because of a big gift it made this summer: $8.9 million to fund an inovative mental health center in Austin. It’s the largest grant the St. David’s Foundation has ever made, and reflects the goal of its mental health giving (called Healthy Minds) to promote community services for mental health patients.

In 2012, its largest grant, $3.7 million, went to the People’s Community Clinic, in Austin, a long-running community-based clinic that provides a range of services to the underserved, uninsured, and disenfranchised. SDF’s second-largest grant that year, of over $2 million, went to Lone Star Circle of Care, to enhance its behavioral health program.

With its latest and biggest gift, SDF his helping a longtime partner to create an actual new facility to meet mental health needs in central Texas. SDF has been giving to Austin Travis County Integral Care for years, impressed, no doubt, by that organization’s focus on mental health and serving those with brain disorders. It’s a big organization, overseeing 46 physical locations on a budget of just $72 million annually. And the SDF is chuffed to be helping it add one more.

We’re guessing that while SDF’s familiarity with Austin Travis County Integral Care didn’t hurt, the foundation was really excited by the opportunity to fund something novel: an emergency care facility strictly devoted to mental health patients in crisis, in a county where 400 people a month suffer mental health breakdowns without receiving adequate care.