Insurance is a huge industry in the United States—and a profitable one, too—so it's not surprising that the sector produces quite a bit of philanthropy. Over the years, we've written about lots of insurance companies with foundation arms. But what we've never seen before now is a philanthropic effort by a medical professional liability insurance company. Based in San Francisco, NORCAL Group provides insurance products and services for hospitals, physicians, clinics and medical groups, and it recently started a grantmaking foundation.
The NORCAL Group Foundation was launched in September 2017 and just gave out its first round of grants. The funder is focused on patient care, patient safety and physician wellness. It's also focused on giving in the communities where its employees live and work—as is often the case with corporate funders.
It awarded seven grants in the first round, largely focused on needs in California. For example, it awarded a grant to the San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium for a mobile medical clinic that brings urgent and preventative care to homeless people. A couple grants went to Los Angeles groups, as well, Asian Pacific Health Care Venture for a caregiver support group and workshops for managing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and Project Angel Food, which provides free meals and nutrition counseling for people with serious diseases in Southern California.
The remaining grants went to nonprofits in Sacramento, Fresno, San Diego and Anchorage, Alaska. Other funder interests include providing primary care and dental services to low-income and uninsured adults, training physicians on wellness topics, and standardizing clearance protocol for psychiatric patients in emergency departments.
While the funder’s name might suggest a strict Northern California focus, the NORCAL Group Foundation is actually interested in supporting nonprofits in 37 states in the U.S. This includes all of the West Coast states, but leaves out the Northeast Region, the mid-north region, and a couple of other states.
In terms of eligibility, if you’re not a current NORAL Group policyholder, you must be referred by a NORCAL Group employee to receive a grant. This is a funder that avoids giving out funds for general operating costs and capital campaigns. It also doesn’t support research, equipment or events.
There’s a foundation grants committee that reviews funding requests two times per year, and the next deadline for applications is between March 1 and April 15. Responses will be given by June 6 for this grantmaking cycle. Also, there is no limit to the amount of funding you can request from NORCAL.
The foundation is led by Joy Corso, who is based in Austin, Texas, and serves as the foundation president and the vice president of communications, marketing and customer experience at NORCAL Group. In addition to San Francisco, the company has offices in Austin, Jacksonville, Florida and Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Corso has been with the company since 2014, and previously worked as the head of global and internal and executive communications for AMD in Austin.
While things are just getting started, this foundation is already awarding some pretty interesting grants and paying attention to some niche health funding areas. We’re definitely interested to see how this brand-new foundation evolves and what lies ahead for its future work.