End-of-Life Care: Who’s Funding This Niche Area in the Southwest?

photo:  Photographee.eu/shutterstock

photo:  Photographee.eu/shutterstock

Nationwide, grantmaking for the elderly has traditionally lagged behind support for other age groups and vulnerable populations. Funders who do prioritize senior care often focus on access to healthy food, affordable housing and basic needs social services. What we don't see much of is funding focused on end-of-life care. 

A somewhat unlikely partnership between the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona (CFSA) and the David and Lura Lovell Foundation is making an investment of nearly $3 million in this area. The goals are to improve awareness, understanding, and availability of this type of care and assist underserved and vulnerable populations.

Because of its power and reach, this collaboration has become the largest local end-of-life care initiative in the nation. It's offering new end-of-life care support in the form of multi-year grants toward issues like hospice care and the larger experiences of death and grieving.

CFSA’s support for this cause largely comes from the endowment of Shaaron Kent, who dictated in her will that some of her estate should go toward hospice programs. Volunteers interested in end-of-life issues convened to determine the best ways to carry out her wishes. New CFSA grants for this cause total $390,000. But the community funder has given out over $850,000 from Kent’s endowment fund for end-of-life issues and programs since 2012.

Meanwhile, the Lovell Foundation is going  all-in with its end-of-life care support. This funder awarded a whopping $2,507,619 for end-of-life planning and care projects, which will receive between $20,000 and $1 million each. Some recent local grantees include the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, Southwest Folklife Alliance, the University of Arizona Center on Aging, and Tu Nidito Children and Family Services.

John Amoroso, executive director of the Lovell Foundation, made the following statement:

Our collective goal is to fundamentally change the narrative on how we plan for, care for and experience death and dying in Southern Arizona and beyond. Ultimately, we all – individuals, families, caregivers, health systems and communities – bear the responsibility for changing the status quo by helping each other to engage in compassionate, honest conversations about our mortality, the type of healthcare we wish to receive and how it is given across the spectrum of life choices.

In the past, Lovell has funded an Arizona Public Media/PBS documentary about end-of-life care, as well as other on-topic projects. The president of this family foundation, Ann Lovell, has said that they discovered how people were working together on end-of-life issues with CFSA support and wished to expand its commitment and investments within this field.

For now, Southern Arizona has emerged as a leader in end-of-life care funding and a model for other regions to emulate. Aside from end-of-life care, other grantmaking priorities for the Tucson-based Lovell Foundation are mental health, youth access to the arts, integrative health and wellness and gender parity.