The Helen Bader Foundation is cutting out the small fry and going big with aging grants. Time was, the Milwaukee-based foundation scattered handfuls of small, multi-thousand-dollar grants all across their home state, with a couple flying away to neighboring states like Illinois or Minnesota, but no more. Since 2012, giving through the foundation’s Alzheimer’s and Aging grantmaking program usually boils down to one whopping gift per year.
Earlier this year, the HBF gifted the University of Wisconsin Foundation $1.5 million to run the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute. And now they’re teaming up with the Margaret Cargill Foundation, serving as a pass-through for $2 million in funds to close the gap between aging, rural Wisconsinites and quality health care.
Simply stated, the as-yet nameless initiative wants aging adults to stay put—in other words, to stay settled in their towns where they have friends and services they trust. That’s a huge first step towards guaranteeing stable quality-of-life throughout old age, and both foundations know it. Rural communities are especially at risk of losing their older generations. Little towns are often car-dependent, and more likely to be economically challenged. To top it off, funding for eldercare programs in small towns is often in jeopardy of budget cuts, due to the small populations served and the nature of the economy.
Prior to 2012’s drastic slowdown in grantmaking, HBF gave freely to community organizations across Wisconsin that provided hot meals, independent housing, activities and eldercare advocacy. Clearly, it’s ceased making grants to those sorts of programs—due in part to the 2008 financial crisis, which hit HBF hard—but the foundation’s heart is still in that sort of work. Implementing this $2 million in funding from Cargill is probably a welcomed chance for the HBF to get back to helping out the little guys.
The HBF is recently closed its window for proposals—but that window will open up again next year, as the initiative moves into Round Two.