Dell is a big name around the world, but it’s especially big in Austin right now. The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation recently announced a $25 million matching challenge grant to Seaton Healthcare to build a new teaching hospital in downtown Austin.
But this massive commitment comes with a slight catch. The Seton Fund needs to raise $50 million to build the new 211-bed hospital, and the foundation will match up to $25 million to help out.
Over the past year, Dell grantmaking has otherwise revolved around education and higher education, with grants ranging from $100,000 to $1 million going to causes in Boston, Baltimore, and New York.
However, the Dells have always been committed to the health of the Austin area, even before they started their foundation in 1999. They established the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin with a $50 million grant two years ago and improved community health and access programs in Austin and Travis Counties with another million. The foundation has given Seton $31 million for construction and expansion of Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas since 2004.
“Since 2003, the foundation’s Central Texas health investments have centered on creating and supporting the elements necessary to provide ‘best in class’ care for local families,” said Susan Dell, co-founder and board chair of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “We want to promote health, not just treat diseases. Our goal always has been to invest in the future of care for the entire community.”
Once these funds are raised, this teaching hospital also promises to build the healthcare workforce and strengthen local economy. An estimated 15,000 new local jobs—not including construction jobs—are expected to emerge from this new venture.
Yet childhood health remains the overall focus of Dell health grantmaking. Childhood obesity, chronic disease research, under/ uninsured children, and neglected/abused children are the specific focuses of the Dell Foundation’s U.S. health grants. And although the foundation has committed significantly more to education than childhood health over the years ($698.1 million v. $259.9 million to date), grants like this one stand to benefit more than just the kids.
Seton’s new teaching hospital, which is to be named Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, is currently under construction at 15th and Red River Streets. It’s projected to be completed in 2017 and will cost around $295 million.