Con Alma: A New Mexico Health Funder You Should Know

The Con Alma Health Foundation has an exclusive New Mexico focus, which makes it an excellent local funder to get familiar with. Like many foundations that we’ve covered in other cities across America, Con Alma emerged from the sale of an insurance company. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, a not-for-profit corporation, was sold off in the early 2000s, and state law required that its non-charitable assets of more than $20 million be set aside for a similar organization. Thus, the Con Alma Health Foundation was born, and today is the largest solely-dedicated health funder in the state.

But this isn’t a funder that shies away from anything that doesn’t involve a doctor-patient relationship. The foundation also considers human service needs, with special emphasis on culturally diverse, rural and tribal communities. Rather than direct services, Con Alma prefers to support programs that address systemic change and have other funding sources too.

By the time its 2013 annual report was published, the foundation had grown to over $25 million and had distributed more than $11 million to help New Mexicans improve their health. The average Con Alma grant size is about $10,000 to $15,000 and multi-year grants are available, too. Recent "small grants program" grantees include Appleseed of New Mexico, KRWG Radio in Las Cruces, and the New Mexico Community AIDS Partnership.

Con Alma has another funding opportunity as well, known as the Northern New Mexico Health Grant Group (NNMHGG). This is a joint initiative with the Hospital Auxiliary of Los Alamos Medical Center that focuses more specifically on healthcare needs in Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and northern Santa Fe Counties. Recent NNMHGG grantees include the New Mexico chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Breath of My Heart Birthplace, and the Cancer Foundation for New Mexico.

Santa Fe native Denise Gonzales serves as the foundation’s program director. She's the former director of community philanthropy at the New Mexico Community Foundation. Dolores Roybal has been the foundation’s executive director since 2007, and she was once a program director at the Santa Fe Community Foundation. So clearly, even with a small staff size of just six, there’s a lot of local philanthropy experience in this office.

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It’s important to note that the foundation doesn’t accept grant requests on an ongoing basis, as it has two primary grant cycles per year. Con Alma introduced an online application process in 2014, and the small grants cycle typically begins in April of each year. New Mexico health nonprofits should sign up for Con Alma’s mailing list to stay informed about upcoming deadlines.

The foundation’s 2012-2014 strategic plan involved lots of policy advocacy, nonprofit capacity building and collaboration, and building the endowment. But where Con Alma is headed in 2015 and beyond is yet to be determined. Send general questions to staff@conalma.org. Individual staff email addresses and phone numbers are listed on the foundation website.