Where Is This Central Texas Foundation Sending Its "Opportunity Grants"?

photo:  Samuel Borges Photography/shutterstock

photo:  Samuel Borges Photography/shutterstock

In the fall of last year, we covered a new Central Texas-focused initiative of the St. David’s Foundation called Opportunity Grants. To recap, these are grants that support new approaches to improving community health. They’re for short-term projects with long-term potential and they often explore new models. Back then, the foundation kicked off its Opportunity Grants initiative with a nearly $1 million commitment spread across 10 local nonprofits. Those grants addressed issues like e-cigarette prevention in middle schools, substance abuse recovery for youth, and vision screening for children.

A year later, we wanted to check back in with the Opportunity Grants initiative to see how it’s progressing and changing. Although the program hasn't significantly grown in size or scope, it's still going strong, which is great news for groups with fresh, new ideas.

Read: What St. David’s New Initiative Promises for Central Texas Health Groups

The St. David’s Foundation recently announced ten new Opportunity Grant recipients with a similar financial commitment. This year, there was a heightened focus on healthy eating among children, serving special needs children, training mentors to work with children of incarcerated parents, and using technology to reach rural residents in the region. These new grants are between $80,000 and $100,000 and are to be used during a two-year period starting in January. The Opportunity Grant total for 2017 was $982,537. Grantees included Bookspring for pediatric literacy kits, Cardea for rural healthcare efforts, Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas for contraceptive counseling toolkits, and the Arc of Capital Area for health promotion for people with disabilities.

Earl Maxwell, CEO of St. David’s Foundation said:

Opportunity Grants allow St. David’s Foundation to explore fresh and exciting approaches as we work to make Central Texas the healthiest community in the world. We are delighted to work with these innovative organizations to seek the best solutions for our area’s healthcare challenges.

Upon review of both last year’s and this year’s Opportunity Grants, there is a consistently clear focus on children and youth. But women’s health is gaining some momentum here as well.

For example, there’s also been a big push at this foundation to provide postpartum support to low-income and underserved women. An application period for a related RFP recently ended, which marks St. David’s first major investment in this issue area. Overall, the St. David’s women’s health funding strategy involves and improving postpartum outcomes as well as reducing preterm birth disparities and promoting access to preventative services.

Women’s postpartum grants are expected to be larger than the Opportunity Grants though, as the foundation plans to award up to 15 of them up to $300,000 each for 18-month funding periods. But as with the Opportunity Grants, St. David’s postpartum support will be for programs and projects, not for ongoing nonprofit operations. The next round of funding decisions for this issue area are expected to be made in late-December. For 2017 in general, the foundation’s goal is to invest up to $75 million in the region to connect thousands of low-income people to a full range of health services.