$1.2 billion and Growing: Why East Texas Nonprofits Should Know the Episcopal Health Foundation

The Episcopal Health Foundation is relatively new on the Texas grantmaking scene, as it was established in 2013 from the transfer of the St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System to Catholic Health Initiatives. The funder’s grantmaking focuses on 57 counties in Eastern Texas, including Houston, Galveston, and Austin. Here are a few key details that local grantseekers should know about this locally-focused foundation.

A Religious Background, but Not Religious Funding

The mission of this foundation is to advance the Kingdom of God through grants that benefit human health. However, many of the nonprofits that receive grants aren’t religiously affiliated at all. Actually, “grants for religious purposes” is on the list of items that the foundation does NOT fund. The funder does not require grant applicants to have an affiliation with the Episcopal Church or any other faith community to be considered for funding.

Community Health Focus

Advancing community health programs is the number one grantmaking goal of the Episcopal Health Foundation. It aims to address the root causes of bad health instead of funding programs that just treat symptoms. Health in Texas generally lags behind the rest of the country, and according to Robert Wood Johnson county health rankings, one-third of the Diocese’s 57 counties are among the lowest rated for good health.

A majority of foundation grants have been going to integrated community-based primary care -- $1.5 million in the most recent grant cycle. Another top priority recently has been mental health, followed by access to health services and early childhood development. Recent statistics also show that nearly two million people in the Diocese report more mentally unhealthy days than the state average.

Capacity Building

One of the foundation’s main goals is to support capacity building for nonprofits, individuals, and congregations. Most of this support is provided in the form of training programs, community-based participatory research, and community engagement to develop appropriate programs.

However, the foundation awards operating grants and project/program grants too. Capital support is considered by invitation only and after consultation.

Recent Grants

Earliest this summer, the Episcopal Health Foundation awarded $2.9 million in grants to 15 new grant partners. These commitments brought the foundation’s total giving amount up to $5.3 million. Recent grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $928,000.

These are a few examples of recent top-earning grant partners and the Texas counties they are benefitting:

  • MHMRA of Harris County to train 911 operators to handle and refer out mental health calls
  • El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission (Travis County) to improve the Wallace Mallory Clinic
  • The Rose (33 counties) to provide breast health services to uninsured women in community health clinics
  • Rice Medical Center (Colorado County) to expand a telemedicine program for students in rural school districts

Applying for a Grant

The Episcopal Health Foundation provides funding of small grants with up to $10,000 in support for immediate short-term and emergency needs. It also issues requests for proposals for specific initiatives. For example, the foundation recently collaborated up with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts on the Health Impact Project to award one $100,000 grant to a Texas organization interested in conducting a health impact assessment.

Big Potential

Although it’s new on the scene, there’s a ton of potential here for East Texas grantseekers. The foundation has over $1.2 billion in assets and keeps all its money local. Episcopal committed to awarding $9 million in grants this year, with average awards being about $100,000, and then increase its grantmaking budget in 2016 and 2017.

Related: Read IP's Profile of the Episcopal Health Foundation

To learn more about the foundation, you can also check out the Strategic Plan for 2015-2017 document and watch the videos from recent grantmaking workshops. Before submitting an application, the foundation encourages potential applicants to speak with a program officer by calling 713-225-0900. You mat get program officers Katy Butterwick, Jennifer Herrera, or Celene Meyer on the phone.