Episcopal Health Foundation Announces Bold Plan to Transform Community Health

Episcopal Health Foundation Announces Bold Plan to Transform Community Health

Member News
Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Episcopal Health Foundation leaders today announced a detailed plan to improve community health across 57 Texas counties. The plan was introduced during a presentation at Iglesia Episcopal San Mateo in Houston. The new $1.2 billion foundation believes its One Vision, Three Goals, Seven Strategies plan will help transform the health of families most in need through a different way of philanthropy.

"Our goal is not just to fill the gaps inside the health system," said Bishop C. Andrew Doyle, the ninth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and chair of the Episcopal Health Foundation board of directors. "We're hoping to actually close the gap between where people are and a true community of health and wellness."

The Foundation's strategic plan will guide its work over the next three years. The plan's One Vision is transformation to healthy communities for all within the 57 counties of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

"We're going beyond just treating the symptoms of unhealthy communities," said Elena Marks, president and CEO of the Episcopal Health Foundation. "We're moving from a charity model of philanthropy to a transformative model. That means we're working to address and correct the root causes of poor health and work with our partners to change a community's well-being for the better."

To help achieve these long-lasting changes, Foundation leaders focused on Three Goals - Strong Health Systems, Connected Communities and an Engaged Diocese. Marks said that focusing on three key goals makes it possible to make a measurable, sustainable difference in a few areas of community health, rather than making a very small difference in many areas. "We went through a substantial planning process that involved research, conversations with communities, and reaching out to community health experts," said Marks. "We really worked to identify what were the best opportunities for us to make a difference."

While the Foundation will not be operating health clinics, the goal to strengthen the health system centers on improving quality of and access to a variety of basic health services. Connected communities are needed so there's interaction between different groups to be able to reach and impact more people. An engaged diocese means 80,000 Episcopal church members go to work to positively impact health where they live.

"The Diocese's 57 counties cover a broad area of East, Central and Southeast Texas," said Linnet Deily, executive chair of the Foundation's board of directors. "Ten million people live in the diocese from big cities like Houston to small rural areas in East Texas. By working with the Foundation, parishioners can make sure all voices in their communities are heard and they can become advocates for community health."

The plan's Seven Strategies are specific ways the Foundation will invest in lasting change. They are strategies that will direct the Foundation's grant-making, research, and collaboration with other groups and organizations.

  • Support comprehensive, integrated community-based primary care - Making sure there is basic, integrated healthcare services in communities.
  • Increase access to health services - It's one thing for facilities to exist in an area, but if everyone does not have access to those services for whatever reason, then the entire community is not truly served.
  • Support mental health and wellness - The Foundation is interested in combating and preventing mental illness and eliminating the associated stigma.
  • Enhance early childhood development - Supporting families and caregivers of the youngest children to help provide environments to enrich young brains.
  • Support capacity building - Helping health-related organizations reach their fullest potential through resources and knowledge.
  • Facilitate healthy planning - Providing training to organizations so they may apply a "health lens" in planning and decision-making and better understand how non-health sector decisions are likely to impact health.
  • Strengthen collective impact - Helping multiple parties across multiple sectors like education, housing and transportation come together to produce more significant change in community health.

"We captured a vision and now we're setting out on a strategy," Doyle said. "The people who live within our 57 counties ought to be better off tomorrow because the Episcopal Health Foundation is here today. Life ought to be better for them because we're invested in them and with them in their community."

The Foundation announced it will invest approximately $9 million in grants to organizations in 2015. The goal is for grant-making amounts to grow each year, reaching $30 million in 2017 and increasing thereafter. "We have the resources and the opportunity to do something that is different and transformative from the beginning," Marks said.

While grant-making is an important part of the its mission, the Foundation does more than just provide funding. The Foundation will do important research centered on health. It will create new coalitions and partnerships. Foundation staff will help convene groups who want to work together to improve community health. In addition, the Foundation is committed to being accountable by continually measuring its true impact, "We're not just interested in giving away money and hoping that does something," Doyle said. "We really expect to have an impact and if we're not, we'll change our strategies accordingly because we believe we have the capacity to change the world."

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