OVERVIEW: This funder supports nonprofits in nine Central Louisiana parishes in the fields of healthcare access, obesity, tobacco/alcohol/drug use prevention, education, economic development, and community development.
FUNDING AREAS: Healthcare access, obesity, tobacco/alcohol/drug use prevention, education, economic development, community development
IP TAKE: This foundation was founded upon a health partnership but supports many causes beyond health. Grant seekers should check out its education work and what it is doing through the local education fund, the Orchard Foundation.
PROFILE: The Rapides Foundation provides support to Central Louisiana to improve the region’s health status. Joe Rosier, the foundation’s CEO and president, provided the following background information about the foundation to Inside Philanthropy in an interview:
On September 1, 1994, a joint venture partnership between Rapides Regional Medical Center and Columbia HCA resulted in the creation of The Rapides Foundation, what was then the largest endowed charitable foundation in Louisiana. The Rapides Foundation was created with a $140 million endowment, and had assets as of 2015 year end of $250 million. Since grantmaking began in 1995, The Rapides Foundation has disbursed more than $200 million in grants in its nine-parish service area in Central Louisiana. Our legacy of healthcare shapes who we are today and how we behave as a grantmaking organization.
Rapides serves the following nine Central Louisiana Parishes: Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon, and Winn. It makes grants to groups that provide access to quality healthcare to reduce health disparities and also grants to promote healthy behaviors among residents. This includes programs related to nutrition, exercise, tobacco and alcohol use, and substance abuse.
Within the realm of education, the Rapides Foundation assembled leaders in the nine parishes to study local education needs and committed $600,000 over a three-year period to establish a local education fund. This fund is called The Orchard Foundation, and its big goals involve leadership training and school-community relationships. Most of the foundation’s support seeks to build relationships with local public schools and focuses on professional and leadership development for teachers and administrators, career and post-secondary readiness, and kindergarten readiness.
The Rapides Foundation also awards economic development grants to improve the local unemployment rate and support higher-wage jobs. Its grantmaking is centered on business startups and expansions, workforce skills and development, and business culture and environment. The other funding priority here is community development, for which the funder provides grants to support nonprofit development and to increase civic engagement. New grant seekers can learn about past grantees in each of these funding focus areas on the foundation website.
Although unsolicited proposals are not accepted, this is an accessible and transparent foundation that uses a request for proposals process and makes its staff available by phone and email for questions. It is a smart idea to contact the program department at (318) 443-3394 before putting together a grant proposal to discuss an idea. Grant seekers should keep in mind that this foundation does not typically fund hospitals, disease-specific organizations, or renovations/equipment not directly linked to a specific program.
Take a look at the foundation’s newsroom to keep up with recent events or click the “join our mailing list” button on the homepage to subscribe to the funder’s newsletter. General inquiries from grant seekers can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or individual staff members by email.
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