This year, like last, challenged all of us to adapt and to navigate new challenges and, in some cases, loss. However, we also saw progress in 2021. As we reflect on 2021 and look forward to 2022, it is important to celebrate.
At the Health Fund, we celebrated two major milestones. We turned 35, and in our first 3.5 decades of grantmaking we invested more than $75 million into improving the health and wholeness of Kansans.
Often, anniversaries and monetary milestones feel most important for the people celebrating them. But these two milestones reflect our strong relationships across Kansas in health care, early childhood development, and United Methodist churches. This is a celebration of the more than 850 organizations impacted and 2,800 projects supported.
“Seventy-five million dollars in grants and 35 years of service are both major milestones. They demonstrate the continued dedication of board members, staff, and partners to improving the health of all Kansans,” said David Jordan, president and CEO of the Health Fund. “Together, we will continue to address the social and economic forces affecting overall health and work to make Kansas a healthier state.”
A community health worker pilot program, the Kansas ABC initiative, and Mental Health First Aid training all illustrate the breadth of the Fund’s work, and how our three focus areas all improve the health of Kansans.
Access to Care: Exploring the Efficacy of Community Health Workers in Improving Outcomes
In 2021, the Health Fund supported five community health worker positions across the state. The pilot program is exploring if health outcomes are improved by having community health workers—who are culturally competent frontline workers—help patients navigate the health care system.
Early Childhood Development: Intervening Early in Caregiver/Infant Relationships
When children face toxic stress, they face worse health outcomes. The Health Fund, in partnership with four other foundations, has led the Kanas ABC Initiative, to determine if the Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up program (ABC) would help buffer the harmful effects of toxic stress on infants. The 10-week program is an evidence-based parenting intervention for caregivers of infants and toddlers. So far, the initiative has shown promise in Kansas.
Healthy Congregations: Teaching Lay People Strategies to Help Individuals in Crisis
Churches in our Healthy Congregations program asked for more resources on mental wellness, which were especially needed as congregations and communities continued to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. We offered two sessions of Mental Health First Aid, a one-day training where participants learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and substance abuse concerns, as well as strategies to help someone in crisis and non-crisis situations. Both sessions filled and we will offer at least ten sessions of this valuable course in 2022.
In 2022, the Health Fund will finish the final year in our current four-year strategic plan, as well as unveil the next plan. We look forward to continuing to work together to improve the health of Kansans.
About the Health Fund
In 1986, the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund started with a $30 million endowment established from the sale of Wesley Hospital. The Health Fund works to facilitate conversation and action to improve the health and wholeness of Kansans—especially those in rural and under-served communities. By funding programs, moving ideas to solutions, providing hands-on expertise, and convening influencers, we work to advance innovative solutions to improve Kansans’ health for generations to come. We steward a $70 million endowment, which has provided more than $75 million in grants and program support since our inception.