University Receives $1.5 Million to Support Faith-Based Community
Health Programs Across Country
ATLANTA - An
Emory University program that represents a unique combination of public
health and religion has received a $1.5 million grant designed to promote
community health in seven states from Georgia to California.
The Interfaith Health Program
(IHP) of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory is one of 21 "intermediary"
groups chose by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to
disperse $24.8 million worth of funds and technical assistance to faith-based
"Faith- and community-based
organizations are often the most effective groups in carrying out the
purposes of HHS programs, yet many do not have the staff or expertise
to successfully apply for our funding," said HHS Secretary Tommy G.
Thompson. "Emory University will help us begin a new effort to help
faith- and community-based organizations get a fair and equal opportunity
to compete for HHS funds."
"Strong Partners," the name
of Emory's interfaith health initiative, is a partnership with nine
foundations in seven states. Together, these foundations have directly
allocated $1,460,000 of their funds to local faith-based organizations.
HHS is appropriating $1.5 million to the Emory program, which in turn
will disburse $900,000 to the foundations. IHP will also amplify the
impact of the funds by providing technical assistance and serving as
a clearinghouse of national expertise in promoting public health through
faith-based communities. The technical assistance includes helping local
groups effectively access funding sources, operate and manage their
programs, develop and train staff, expand the reach of programs into
the into the community, and replicate promising programs.
"Where others see failure,
we see people and communities of promise," says Gary Gunderson, MDiv,
DMin, director of the Interfaith Health Program at Emory. "The commitment
from the "Strong Partners" is a small fraction of the funds that flow
from these foundations into the communities they serve every year. The
federal funds will amplify this flow and build the capacity of faith-based
organizations to work collaboratively for community change."
James W. Curran, MD, MPH,
dean of the Rollins School of Public Health, says the HHS appropriation
is welcome recognition. "Many of the most pressing public health problems
of our time are rooted in behavioral and social conditions as much as
they are in microorganisms or environmental toxins," says Dr. Curran.
"Therefore, it is important to recognize that solutions to these problems
must have many dimensions beyond the medical, and that communities of
faith make vital contributions to the health of the public in many ways."
Following are examples of
the programs that will be supported by these grants from the Federal
Government and participating Strong Partners foundations:
Atlanta, GA: Saint Joseph's
Mercy Foundation is a private, not-for-profit fund-raising entity,
whose sole purpose is to support the work of the Sisters of Mercy and
others who strive to "heal as Jesus did." Saint Joseph's Mercy Foundation
is dedicated to the Sisters of Mercy philosophy: compassionate care
of the total person and their families.
The Center for Health Ministries
of St. Joseph's Mercy Care collaborates with local churches, synagogues
and other faith centers within metro Atlanta to provide wholistic, preventive
health-care services for congregations and surrounding communities.
"Saint JosephÕs actively participates in the healing ministry of the
faith community through its mission to serve the whole person and achieve
community wellness by promoting a concept of health inclusive of all
element of life," said Philip Mazzara, President of St. JosephÕs Mercy
Foundation. By offering the services of licensed professional nurses,
the program develops a relationship between the two centers of healing,
while providing a ministry to communities through education, counseling
Alexandria, LA: The Rapides
Foundation is working to improve community health in Central Louisiana.
It is a job that takes the dedication and teamwork of many people and
organizations in the communities. The Rapides Foundation is a philanthropic
organization that provides grants to organizations throughout an 11-parish
service area that share the foundation's mission to improve the health
and well-being of Central Louisiana. Established in 1994 as the result
of a joint venture between Rapides Regional Medical Center and Columbia/HCA,
the Rapides Foundation became the largest endowed charitable foundation
in Louisiana with initial assets of almost $150 million. Current assets
are over $190 million. (www.rapidesfoundation.org)
The Rapides Foundation is
working with local faith-based organizations and the healthcare community
to encourage partnerships between the two. Linking faith and health
is actually not a new idea. After all, faith groups here and abroad
started many hospitals. "Melding health and faith is a way of focusing
on the wholeness of people, attending to one's body, mind and spirit,"
said Joe Rosier, President and CEO.
The Foundation looks for
partners that have the commitment, leadership, and capacity to build
and improve their communities. However, too few faith-based organizations
currently exist in our region to take advantage of this funding. The
Foundation has taken the first step in changing the landscape of our
region through our priority Initiatives and community development Initiatives
that will be the springboard for many faith-based organizations to engage
in improving the health and development of their communities.
Chicago, IL: Wheat Ridge
Ministries is a Lutheran affiliated not-for-profit agency that seeds
new ministries of health and hope, in the name of the healing Christ.
Wheat Ridge provides grants, connects people with common ministry interests,
and helps equip people for a wide variety of health and healing ministries.
"Wheat Ridge Ministries is
looking forward to partnering with the IHP and fellow funding agencies
to help provide additional resources for the many worthy health-related
programs sponsored by congregations and agencies of the church. It is
encouraging that the federal government is recognizing through this
faith-based initiative effort the critically important role faith based
organizations play in addressing the needs of the underserved people
in our society." (www.wheatridge.org)
Hayward, CA: Vesper
Society is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that has provided tools,
resources, and expertise to meet the social, health, educational, and
spiritual needs of people around the world for over 30 years (http://www.vesper.org).
"Vesper Society's vision
is of a compassionate world which protects human dignity and enhances
human potential. We are very pleased to partner with our local community
to build capacity and supplement resources that our youth might develop
strong, healthy lives," said Mary Baich, president. "Many of our youth
have no health care home, no adult role models, and limited personal
capacity to meet the demands of growing up in a poor, inner city neighborhood.
We are so thankful to be able to help."
Houston, Texas: Created
in 1997 as a separate component of St. LukeÕs Episcopal Health System
(SLEHS) in Houston, Texas, St. LukeÕs Episcopal Health Charities
(SLEHC) is a grant-making (non-operating) public charity with 501©3
status. SLEHC is the areaÕs largest faith-based charity providing the
Houston community and communities within the 57-county Episcopal Diocese
of Texas with a much-needed resource: a charity devoted exclusively
to assessing and enhancing community health. To date, SLEHC has awarded
over $45 million to select, non-profit service programs throughout the
Diocese, with 70 percent going to the greater Houston area. SLEHC has
also developed an innovative interactive website located at www.slehc.org
that provides demographic, economic, health and social data at the census-track
level for all 57 counties of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
"We feel that working together
with faith-based partners across the country will allow us to participate
in a learning network that will bear fruits for years to come," said
Carla Cooper, Ph.D, executive director of St. LukeÕs Episcopal Health
Charities and senior vice president of St LukeÕs Episcopal Health System.
Kansas: The United
Methodist Health Ministry Fund, an IHP "Strong Partner," is dedicated
to improving health, healing, and wholeness in Kansas. The fund was
one of two foundations formed from the sale of the Wesley Medical Center
"The needs of our society
continue to grow beyond the resources of any one sector to address,
especially in ways that assist people in moving beyond their present
circumstances," says Kim Moore, president of the United Methodist Health
Ministry Fund. "This project gives us an opportunity to learn how government
can be a partner with faith-based organizations to enhance programs
transforming people and their circumstances."
St. Louis: The Deaconess
Foundation is a faith-based health foundation dedicated to the improved
health of metropolitan St. Louis. A catalyst and advocate for community-based
initiatives, the priority of the Deaconess Foundation is to increase
the well-being of vulnerable children in the urban core areas of the
St. Louis: The Incarnate
Word Foundation, sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate
Word-San Antonio, is a Christian ministry that partners with religious
groups, agencies, community groups, faith-based organizations, and other
philanthropic organizations to improve the health and quality of life
of the community, with a particular emphasis on the economically poor.
"The current economic climate
is a challenging one, and by partnering with others, we are able to
support the efforts of effective faith-based organizations to assist
even more people in need," said Bridget Flood, Executive Director of
Incarnate Word Foundation.
El Puente in Jefferson City,
MO is an effort on the part of Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word
to meet the needs of Hispanic families who are emigrating to the state
capitol in search of work to support their families. The agency's services
include programs that meet basic needs, as well as English as a Second
Language classes and life skills assistance. Whole Kid's Outreach is
a faith-based effort in Ellington, MO to address the widespread poverty
in this rural community through maternal child healthcare, job training
and programs for area children and youth. The Partnership for the Poor
is a faith-based effort of churches and social service agencies in inner-city
St. Louis to foster community change in a low income neighborhood by
providing social services and alleviating basic human needs in the tradition
of St. Vincent de Paul.
St. Louis: The Lutheran
Foundation of St. Louis is a $72 million philanthropic trust of
the Church, seeking the improved care of people in the St. Louis area.
Said Fred A. Bleeke, President/CEO, "It's about time that new funds
flow where results are achieved. People whose lives are impacted are
looking for programs that work, not some neutered organization who have
learned to say the right things to get the funds." (www.lutheranfoundation.org)
"The new monies match funds that Lutheran Foundation will award to three
to five organizations whose programs are specifically designed to reduce
infant mortality in the St. Louis region."
The "Strong Partners" foundations supported by the Interfaith Health
Program, and their respective contributions to community health that
will match the Compassion Capital Fund grants in the areas they serve,
Deaconess Foundation $150,000
Incarnate Word Foundation $200,000 St.
Lutheran Foundation $100,000 St.
Rapides Foundation $300,000 Central
St. JosephÕs Mercy Care Foundation $200,000
St. LukeÕs Episcopal Health $200,000 Houston
United Methodist Health Ministry $100,000
Vesper Society $150,000 Haywood,
Wheat Ridge Ministries
Interfaith Health Program, based in Emory University's Rollins School
of Public Health, began as a program of The Carter Center in 1992. It
has worked to advance the health of communities by building collaboration
between faith groups and key partners, especially in public health.
The IHP is also working under a cooperative agreement with the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create the Institute
for Public Health and Faith Collaborations, which trains teams of leaders
in both faith and health to develop projects attacking racial, ethnic,
social, economic, and geographic disparities in health.