What's the Latest on the Paso del Norte Health Foundation's Grantmaking?

There aren’t too many Southwest funders that stretch their grantmaking across the Mexico border, but the Paso del Norte Health Foundation (PdNHF) is one of them. This grantmaker focuses giving across two countries and three states to include Doña Ana, Luna, and Otero counties in New Mexico; El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas; and the municipality of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Related: IP’s Profile of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation 

To get a better sense of PdNHF grantmaking priorities and strategies, I chatted with the foundation’s director of communications, Ida Ortegon.

This health-focused funder has a proactive grantmaking strategy, seeking out partners and prospective grantees to fulfill its specific objectives. Over the past 20 years, the foundation has funded over 300 organizations, including direct service providers, local universities, school districts, and the local government. And fortunately, PdNHF is always interested in learning about new potential grantees. This is a funder that doesn’t shy away from new organizations and emerging organization that it hasn’t previously worked with.

In early September, the foundation announced a new round of grants focused on the youth of the region. These grants totaled over $655,000 and were part of the IGNITE Initiative, which is targeted at disconnected youth and out-of-school programs. This is an especially important demographic, because over 750,000 residents of the region’s 2.3 million population are under the age of 18.

These are some of the most recent PdNHF grants.

  • Boy Scouts of America Yucca Council - $130,256 to recruit 100 new, disconnected boys in El Paso and Southwest New Mexico to become part of the Boy Scouts of America program
  • Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest-Southern New Mexico & West Texas Inc. - $93,860 to create 30 self-sustaining troops via 300 girls and 60 adults in Doña Ana, Luna, and Otero counties in New Mexico, and offer the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to disconnected girls
  • Ngage New Mexico - $38,060 to conduct a thorough review and analysis of policies that contribute to disconnection and identify policies that reduce youth disconnection in Doña Ana County, NM

When I asked Ms. Ortegon for a piece of advice to offer prospective grantseekers, she replied,

For those in our service region, we suggest that prospective grantees contact us and meet with a member of our team. These conversations help prospective grantees learn about our priorities and give us the opportunity to understand their interests. We don’t limit ourselves to traditional funding. We often engage in what we consider ‘leadership.’ In these cases, we utilize our contacts, ability to convene, expertise, and influence to benefit the region we serve.

Myrna Deckert announced her retirement earlier this summer after eight years as CEO of the foundation. She’s now looking forward to playing lots of golf, traveling, and spending time with her kids and grandkids. We expect to see an announcement about Deckert’s replacement later this year.

When asked about where she saw El Paso’s future headed, Deckert replied:

In 10 to 15 years, El Paso and Juarez will be known as the most economically viable and fun border cities in the world! This is due to all the young leaders that are investing and taking leadership roles in both cities. PdNHF will have more than $300 million in assets and will continue to lead many important health initiatives and collaborations in the region.

In other news, the foundation will be celebrating its 20th anniversary on October 1 this year, and releasing a new version of its website on October 2. To learn about the foundation's RFP and grant process, you can contact the staff at 915-544-7636.

I’ll leave you with a final thought of Ms. Ortegon’s that seems to be a driving force at PdNHF:

We are convinced that foundations need to think beyond grantmaking. There are important opportunities for funders to provide leadership in our communities. We need to be creative and find the best ways to use all of our assets. We have talented staff, the ability to convene, and influence. We need to use these assets.