An Uptick of Health Funding in the Carolinas and One Foundation's Reemergence

A few years ago, the Duke Endowment cut its health funding, which limited its health-related grantamaking to "essential health services and health care for the uninsured." This was a big blow to nonprofits in North and South Carolina, especially ones hard-hit by the recession.

Read: Why Duke Endowment Health Care Grants Remain Limited

Before the recession, the Duke Endowment's total assets were nearly $3.5 billion, but that went down to $2.23 billion in 2008. Today it has about $3.35 billion and seems to be on an upswing.

Accordingly, its health grantmaking is slowly but surely getting stronger by the year. In late November, the Duke Endowment announced $16 million in grant awards to 35 organizations in North Carolina and South Carolina. Three new health grants were approved at the trustees’ November meeting, with the top earner being UNC Chapel Hill. The $1 million going here will aim to improve birth outcomes in the eastern part of North Carolina.

The funder also committed $520,700 to the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System for a telepsychiatry program and $350,000 to Novant Health Foundation Presbyterian Medical Center to expand dental care access for both adults and kids.

While the Duke Endowment’s focus narrowed down to just essential services for the uninsured a while back, the health grantmaking focus has since broadened quite a bit. Today, it extends to improving the quality and safety of the delivery of health care, improving access to care, and enhancing prevention for improved population health. Grants are restricted to the Carolinas, and typical recipients are nonprofit hospitals, academic health centers, area health education centers, organizations in counties without eligible hospitals, and nonprofit inpatient long-term care facilities.

Current areas of interest include preventing chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity, care transitions to avoid readmissions, collaborative efforts in healthcare, improving emergency medicine, and adolescent health.

Last year, the Duke Endowment made over $53 million in new health grants with more than $38 million in total distributions. Health grantmaking very narrowly beat out high education, the endowment’s bread and butter, by about $400,000. This is quite significant given the funder’s strong history with colleges and universities in the region. Meanwhile, child care saw less than $20 million in funding last year, and rural churches just over $16 million.

So for the foreseeable future, it seems that the health funding drought is over with this leading foundation in the Southeast. That means that now’s the time for health groups that once felt cut off by budget restraints should get reacquainted with this funder and make a move to get connected in 2017.

If you act fast, there’s actually a health care grant application deadline on December 15. But if you miss it, the next one’s June 15. Both new and existing grantees can apply on the funder’s website by answering seven questions about your focus, collaborative approach, anticipated results, project details, evaluation process, roles, and sustainability. In addition to the three new grantees highlighted here, you can learn about other Quality and Safety of Care grantees, Access to Care grantees, and Prevention grantees here.

Related: Duke Endowment’s Ambitious New Health Collaborative