After Aurora: What Can Foundations Do?

July 31st, 2012

This Denver-based consultant previously worked for twelve years in health philanthropy as senior program officer with the Rose Community Foundation of Denver and as vice president of programs for the Colorado Health Foundation.

A week after the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado, the Denver Post headline read “Suspect sent notebook to CU before rampage.” The earliest accounts of the Aurora rampage focused on the details of the shooting; the first public debates centered on gun control. Then, we began to learn about the victims, both dead and injured. We read that James Holmes, the alleged shooter, is a smart, isolated young man. Days later, and, then only if we read the last paragraphs of a news story, we learned he’d been studying neuroscience and was deeply interested in the genetics of mental illness and also that he was seeing a mental health professional—details that may turn out to be central, as they did in the Virginia Tech massacre and in many of these all-too-common killing sprees.

It’s tough to find a health foundation that is willing to take the lead in mental health. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been laudable efforts to meet the mental health needs of the underserved; there have been. However, there’s still a vacuum of philanthropic leadership in mental health. And it has cost us—not just in the Aurora and Columbine High School mass killings and the other such killings that have occurred in the intervening decade between those two tragedies, but in the suffering of millions who have untreated mental illnesses. Read the rest of this entry »

Foundation-Funded Research to Help States with Health Reform

July 19th, 2012

This week, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced nine research grants, the results of which should help states implement various provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Commonwealth Fund released an issue brief on progress toward getting health insurance exchanges up and running in three states. And the Empire Health Foundation, a relatively new foundation in eastern Washington State, funded a study of how the federal Basic Health Program option would do in that state.

The RWJF grants are under the State Health Access Reform Evaluation (SHARE) program, which is based at the University of Minnesota and directed by Lynn Blewett. This research is expected to provide timely insights for states, because results will be disseminated as grantees achieve specific aims of their projects or complete phases of their work, Donna Spencer, SHARE deputy director, told me. Deadlines are looming to meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act, so this guidance will undoubtedly be welcome. “States have about 18 months remaining to prepare for a considerable expansion in the number of residents eligible for Medicaid and for the launch of state health insurance exchanges under the ACA,” Blewett said in a July 18 press release. Even in states that have made the most progress, there is still plenty of work to get done. “State officials and their staff[s] are hungry for data that will shed light on what approaches may best meet the unique needs of their residents,” she said.

The program aims “to develop a coordinated approach” to studying health reform issues “from a state perspective” and “to produce and disseminate informative, user-friendly findings” for both state and federal policy makers and government agencies.

Read the rest of this entry »

People Post: Comings and Goings and Job Openings in Philanthropy

July 12th, 2012

Check out news of recent hires at foundations and elections to foundation boards. I have also included a few job openings in health philanthropy.

Russ Gould, a partner in California Strategies, LLC, a public affairs firm based in Sacramento, has been elected to the board of the California Endowment. Gould is a past chair of the UC (University of California) Board of Regents and served in the administration of Governor Pete Wilson (R) as head of the Health and Welfare Agency.

Donald J. Mares, president and CEO of Mental Health America of Colorado, has been elected to the board of the Colorado Trust. A former Colorado state senator and representative, he received the Colorado Public Health Association’s Award for Legislative Excellence.

Melody Martin has joined the staff of the Sunflower Foundation, in Topeka, Kansas, as a program officer. She will manage Sunflower’s new Integrated Care Initiative, focusing on the integration of primary care and behavioral health care. Before she came to Sunflower, she was the accreditation manager for what is now Family Health Partners (a Coventry Company), a managed care organization. She also has worked as the HealthWave 19 manager for the Kansas Health Policy Authority, where she oversaw the state’s largest managed care contract and the Healthy Families grants, according to her bio. Other positions she has held include director of quality for the Maine Primary Care Association; while working there, she coordinated behavioral health integration initiatives.

In February, J. Nelson-Weaver joined the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust as a senior program officer for the Health Care Division. The Reynolds Trust awards grants in North Carolina and is based in Winston-Salem. Nelson-Weaver, who goes by “J.,” has a “strong history of developing community collaboratives as well as experience engaging various partners to create health equity” and holds a doctorate in public health, according to a press release. She most recently worked with pediatricians in the Northwest Community Care Network, a primary care provider network serving northwestern North Carolina, “to improve healthcare for children in low-income households.”

Read the rest of this entry »

New Article: HIV/AIDS in African Children: Philanthropy and Baylor Response

July 10th, 2012

A new GrantWatch article, “HIV/AIDS in African Children: The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and Baylor Response,” was released this week as part of the July 2012 issue of  Health Affairs.

The issue has the theme “Assessing the [U.S.] President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief [PEPFAR].” The U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Merck & Co., Inc., and BD funded the thematic issue.

John Damonti and colleagues, who wrote the GrantWatch article, say that the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation worked with the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children’s Hospital, governments in sub-Saharan Africa, and other funders (including the Abbott Fund—the philanthropic arm of Abbott Laboratories) from 2000 to 2011 to help make sure that children received necessary treatment and care.

The foundation initially made Botswana a priority; there, the Baylor initiative identified several challenges, also apparent in some other African countries. These included the fact that few children were receiving antiretroviral drug treatment for HIV/AIDS; in addition, “there was little capacity to increase such services for them.” Also, there was a “serious shortage” of pediatricians and other health professionals with training in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care. Read the rest of this entry »

Nominations Sought for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Young Leader Awards

July 5th, 2012

GrantWatch Blog is pleased to help the foundation get the word out about this new program, which is part of the foundation’s commemorative activities to mark its forty years of grant making. Read more below.

The Young Leader Awards: Recognizing Leadership for a Healthier America program will recognize up to ten people, age forty and under, who offer great promise for leading the way to improved health and health care for all Americans. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF’s) focus is on improving health and health care in the United States.

Each winner will receive an individual award of $40,000.

The RWJF is accepting nominations from the general public for the awards. GrantWatch Blog urges its readers to nominate appropriate candidates. Nominations must be submitted by e-mail.

Note that the deadline for nominations is Monday, July 16, 11:59 p.m., Eastern time. Each nominee must have one (and only one) nominator. Read the rest of this entry »

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