Where is the Episcopal Health Foundation’s Giving Headed in 2016?

Since the Episcopal Health Foundation first crossed our philanthropy radar, we’ve been noticing how this funder’s grantmaking has grown and become even more focused. Well, it’s a new year and we’re expecting big things to come from this locally focused Texas funder.

To close out 2015, we noted that EHF funding may be trending towards capacity building and collaboration efforts. Well, EHF just announced its first round of grants for 2016, which prompted us to take a closer look at the types of grantees catching its attention so far this year. Fifteen new grant partners have now received EHF support and are sharing a pool of $2.2 million.

Uninsured Texans

According to recent figures, the state of Texas has more uninsured children and adults than any other state in the nation. Texas also has high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure. This means that what’s working well in other states might be good enough in the Lone Star State. Many of EHF’s recent grants were dedicated to assisting organizations working in this field.

Capacity Building

This is a carry-over priority from 2015 and a big one for EHF. Approximately $1.2 million in grants will be going towards capacity building efforts like building staff, infrastructure, and improving the skills of leaders and workers. One recent example is a $50,000 grant to Aware Central Texas, which is a capacity building grant to prevent child abuse with in-home family visitations and coaching to at-risk families.

“We have to empower organizations so they can take on the health challenge in Texas in different ways,” Elena Marks, president and CEO of EHF, said in a press release. “We believe positive change happens when communities drive the effort to transform the systems of health where they live. These capacity building grants are a first step toward building a foundation for long-lasting change.”

Root Causes of Health Disparities  

It looks like EHF is avoiding a Band-Aid approach to health funding this year, if its first round of grants tells us anything. The bulk of recent EHF grants fund studies of the root causes of health issues, rather than providing short-term solutions or emergency relief.

Low-Income City Neighborhoods

As if the health outcomes for Texans in general weren’t bad enough, the situation is even more dire in rural areas. The more country areas of the state tend to be lower-income areas, which makes affording healthcare an even greater challenge.

However, EHF grants have also been directed at low-income neighborhoods in the big cities. For example, EHF gave $250,000 to the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund to support work in three low-income neighborhoods in Houston.

What a foundation posts on its website and blog is always a good indicator of priorities at the forefront. Based on recent coverage in the foundation’s news section, these are some of the issues that most concern the staff and board:

  • Health insurance access for Texans
  • Care for uninsured Texans
  • Texans having trouble paying medical bills
  • Physician focus on patient wellness more than just providing services

You can see a full list and descriptions of the grantees on the foundation’s press release. In 2016, the foundation plans to award around $17 million in grants, which is just slightly higher than the 2015 total of $16.5 million. However, that budget is expected to increase again in 2017. Check out the Apply for a Grant page to learn more if your organization works within the 57-county Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

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