This Health Funder Steps Outside It’s Normal Giving Areas with a Special Projects Fund

Over the summer, we highlighted one of NYS Health Foundation’s crowdsource-inspired funding efforts that involved putting its money towards broad implications of health and funding a wide range of local causes. With a geographic focus on eight regions in New York, this initiative was a way to explore nontraditional health needs, like hiking trails, community fitness classes, bike safety classes, and school gardens.

Related: A Funder Puts $100K into a Quest for Ideas to Create a Healthier New York

Last month, NYS Health issued a request for proposals for its Special Projects Fund that offers further insights into this funder. And while the most recent deadline has passed, it's worth taking another look at what NYS Health is up to.

The point of the foundation's Special Projects Fund is to step outside its main priority areas and consider other kinds of approaches and solutions.  NYS Health typically focuses on two areas. Building Health Communities is all about eating healthy foods, being physically active, and making healthy lifestyle choices. And Empowering Health Care Consumers deals with navigating the complex healthcare system and making it transparent and responsive. There’s also a big push for veterans’ health in NYS Health’s normal grantmaking activities.

But this Special Projects Fund looks beyond all that. Any projects that address these issues noted above will not be considered for the Special Projects Fund.

If you’re curious about what types of new projects the fund accepts, learn more about the 2016 recipients. There were five recipients that secured Special Fund Grants this year: Essex County Public Health, Lawyers Alliance for New York, Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center, Hudson River HealthCare, and New York Academy of Medicine.  

The foundation has given preference to special projects that do the following:

  • Improve access to health care in service areas with acute shortages
  • Improve quality in measurable ways
  • Support and strengthen safety-net providers to reach more people
  • Address statewide health system issues that could improve the efficiency or effectiveness of the system

To get involved, the first step is to complete an online inquiry form to determine whether your idea is a fit for NYS Health. The most recent deadline for these forms, September 27, just passed, and the next one is on March 15. If invited to submit a full proposal, those will be due November 18 and May 17, respectively.

Note that Special Project Fund grants are one-time opportunities and they won’t be renewable. And all outside-the-box ideas must impact New Yorkers at the local, regional, or statewide level. Because of the high volume of requests that this fund receives, it tends to only fund about five percent of them each year.

The answers to 35 common questions about the Special Projects Fund are posted on the foundation’s FAQ page, and online inquiry form instructions are can be downloaded from the website too.