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

The St. David’s Foundation is a force to be reckoned with in Central Texas. This is the kind of funder that makes headlines for multi-million commitments and has shown no sign of slowing down with its giving.

But today’s story is all about a new initiative that St. David’s has launched, called Opportunity Grants. This effort is aimed at providing financial support to local nonprofits that are pioneering innovative ways to address healthcare challenges facing their communities. Ten nonprofits collectively received nearly $1 million as part of this new initiative, and a common focus emerged from this inaugural round of grants.

Something we’re seeing a lot of lately with this funder is support for both the physical and mental health needs of youth in Central Texas. Recent grants were awarded to address the following issues:

  • E-cigarette prevention in middle schools
  • Substance abuse recovery for youth
  • Vision screening for children
  • Mental illness support for pre-teens and teens
  • LGBT youth counseling in high schools
  • Provider training for youth mental health

Earl Maxwell, CEO of the foundation, shared in a press release, “The goal of these new Opportunity Grants is to invest in innovative, collaborative and creative solutions to some of the healthcare challenges facing our community."

This shift indicates an increasing interest within the foundation in new programs that go against the grain and step outside the box. These aren't the big multi-million dollar grants that make top headlines, but they offer an refreshing opportunity to new groups and familiar groups that are trying new things. Each of ten recipients, including NAMI Austin, Out Youth, and Communities for Recovery, are receiving $50,000 this year and another $50,000 next year from St. David’s.

Although the bulk of these grants went towards youth health issues, adult issues saw a bit of support as well. These grants were primarily directed towards nonprofits working to improve conditions for adults with mental illness. Grants were awarded to boost employment outcomes, education completion, and behavioral coaching for mentally ill adults. The foundation’s focus of the month is on its Healthy Minds funding area, which encompasses school-based behavioral health services, integrated behavioral health care in the primary care setting, and community-based behavioral health services.

St. David’s is among the largest funders in Central Texas and committed over $25 million in grants over the summer. Total giving for the year is projected to be around $75 million. Aside from mental, safety net clinics have been a big part of this funder’s recent strategy for primary and preventative care. The next deadline coming up is February 15, which is when requests for access to care, mental health, and dental health are due for the June 2017 awards.