The goal of the Hearst Foundations, inspired by founder William Randolph Hearst, is to “ensure that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to build healthy, productive, and inspiring lives.”
First, to clear up why they are the Hearst Foundations, plural: Technically speaking, William Randolph Hearst established an east coast foundation in 1945 and a west coast foundation in 1948. Their missions were (and remain) the same, as are the granting stipulations. Whether your organization resides east or west of the Mississippi River is the only difference.
Regardless of what side of the Mississippi you're on, these foundations are staunchly committed to supporting health. The word "healthy" is right there in their mission, and in fact Health is the official name of one of four areas of foundation giving.
There are obviously myriad health-related institutions and programs, and myriad ways to support a healthy society. The foundations acknowledge this in their own desire to leave a large footprint, stating that they seek to use their funds "to create a broad and enduring impact on the nation’s health."
But the foundations do narrow their scope a bit, articulating five priorities, one of which directly hits upon healthcare access, stating as an emphasis, "Programs improving access to high-quality healthcare for low-income populations."
For the record, the other four are scaling innovation and efficiency for health care delivery systems; specialized care for elderly populations; research pertaining to disease treatments and cures; and professional development. All four of these can also potentially relate to your access-oriented program, and if they do, so much the better.
All said and done, the Hearst Foundations give approximately 30 percent to Health, to organizations throughout the United States. You must have an annual operating budget of at least $1 million to be eligible. The foundations further state that 80% of grantees in its Health category have budgets over $10 million. (With the many hospitals and university centers that receive funding through this stream, this statistic is no surprise.)
As you might expect, given the operating budgets of eligible organizations, the Hearst Foundations look large in terms of scope. They want to fund organizations that serve “large demographic and/or geographic constituencies.” As a comment on their overall giving (not just related to Health) they alsostate as their priority organizations that “enable engagement by young people and create a lasting impression.” Engagement of "young people" here relates not only to serving children, but also the foundations' desire tofund professional development.
The Hearst Foundations want the health access programs they support to differentiate themselves from their peers—not just in an approach to programming, but also in terms of results. They also place importance on results by expecting “evidence of sustainability” for programs beyond their own support. They regularly give both program and—more notably—capital support (and a limited amount of general and endowment support) to 501(c)3 organizations.
A sampling of recently granted hospital and health center projects and programming includes:
- $250,000 to French Hospital Medical Center (San Luis Obispo, CA) "to support the Hearst Cancer Resource Center Patient Navigation Program"
- $150,000 to the Mission Healthcare Foundation (Asheville, NC) "to support the transition of new graduate and mid-career Advanced Practitioners into hospital-based medicine in rural settings"
- $150,000 to the University of Nebraska (Omaha, NE) "to support the new Center for Patient, Family and Community Engagement in Chronic Care Management"
- $125,000 to Healthcare for the Homeless-Houston (Houston, TX) "to support a capital campaign for a new location"
- $100,000 to Direct Relief (Santa Barbara, CA) "to support the United States Hurricane Preparedness Program, to provide medicines and supplies to community clinics and health centers for use during emergencies"
- $100,000 to the Woman's Hospital Foundation (Baton Rouge, LA) "toward the purchase and equipment of a mobile mammography coach"
- $100,000 to the Houston Academy of Medicine (Houston, TX) "to support the 'Library Without Limit' project
- $75,000 to Mountain States Health Alliance (Johnson City, TN) "to complete a telemedicine network linking rural health facilities across four states in Appalachia with the Johnson City Medical Center"
- $75,000 to the Lifeflight Foundation (Camden, ME) "toward the purchase of medical equipment for LifeFlight’s new aircraft"
- $75,000 to the University of Chicago Medical Center (Chicago, IL) "to support the Pediatric Mobile Medical Unit"
- $75,000 to the Helen Keller Institute (Newark, NJ) "to provide free vision care for low-income children in New Jersey."
Remarkably for a funder playing on such a large field, the Hearst Foundations has an open online application process. They do, however, alert potential new applicants that 80 percent of their funding goes to previous recipients. On the flipside of this daunting statistic, if you do make the cut for initial funding through the Hearst Foundations, the odds are in your favor that you’ll continue receiving it. But you’ll have to wait at least three years until that happens; the foundations stipulate that as the “waiting period” between grants.