Colorado Health Foundation: Grants for Public Health

OVERVIEW: The Colorado Health Foundation (CHF) gives to school health programs and community nonprofit organizations to expand nutrition and exercise programs. The foundation also works to support the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

IP TAKE: Results! Results! Results! Don’t apply unless your organization has the analytical chops to track your own performance and report back.

PROFILE: Most of the Colorado Health Foundation’s grants go toward the support of local school districts to fund exercise and nutrition initiatives, or to community organizations like the Boys and Girls Club or the Colorado chapter of The Arc for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to fund expanded programming.

The foundation focuses on three community outcome areas: Healthy LivingHealth Coverage and Health Care, to ensure a "future state where our communities promote health and our health care systems deliver excellent, affordable care to Coloradans who both have and desire good health."

Like many similar health policy organizations (the California Wellness Foundation, the New York Health Foundation) CHF’s goal is to make Colorado “the healthiest state in the nation,” and though its philosophy seems to lean in the direction of preventative care (as is all the rage lately), most of the funding it provides pays for medical treatments. “While our behaviors and the environment are the strongest predictors of health, we spend significantly more on medical services than on preventive care, such as immunizations and early treatment to manage disease progression,” says Kelly Dunkin, (now former) Vice President of Philanthropy for CHF.

Recently, the CHF has refined its goals and mission, going from a wide-open-to-proposals-at-all-times outfit to one with more restraint—but also more intent. "We’ve moved from a very open application process to accepting applications through funding opportunities that are aligned with specific strategies in our healthy living, health coverage or health care outcome areas," Dunkin told IP editors. “This approach allows us to be more transparent about what we are looking for in an application.” In other words, it's added more definition to its organizational goals, and now shares the benefit of that definition with prospective applicants.

CHF looks for grantees—or what it refers to as partners—that can deliver measurable results. It also seeks to fund nonprofit groups with the organizational skills to track their own progress and report back on their levels of participation and efficacy. And though CHF is less amenable to receiving unsolicited applications than it used to be, it still welcomes phone calls from prospective applicants seeking advice. “Call us before submitting an application,” says Dunkin. “Our program officers appreciate the opportunity to discuss your proposal idea and will offer an honest assessment about the prospects for grant funding.”

Most CHF grant amounts are between $50,000 and $150,000, with just a few going for around $500,000 or more. To learn more about the types of organizations CHF supports, you can explore its Recent Grants Awarded webpage. 

The foundation offers three annual deadlines to apply for grant funding: February 15, June 15 and October 15, but not all funding opportunities will be open each cycle.



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