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We recently announced $4.7 million in grant awards through our first proactive initiative, Behavioral Health. Why the change? And what does it mean for our future giving? Read on to find out.

Balancing responsive and strategic grantmaking

Since we were created in 2013, we’ve been busy establishing the organization, bringing staff on board, and creating a strategic plan. In the meantime, our first few grant rounds were responsive and broad in scope, rather than strategically focused on specific challenges.

While we remain committed to responsive grantmaking (and will continue it as part of our strategy), we’re also committed to moving the needle on key health care challenges for Michigan children and seniors. That means proactive initiatives will become a major part of our annual giving, and we’ll make awards in three proactive categories annually:

  • Behavioral Health for Children and Seniors
  • Healthy Aging
  • Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles for Children

Our strategic plan offers background on how we honed in on these categories, and our Grantmaking at a Glance handout offers some more details as well as a typical yearly grantmaking schedule.

Interested in the difference between responsive and proactive grantmaking? Philanthropy 411 blog offers a detailed explanation of each and how they can work together.

 Our Behavioral Health Initiative

Our first proactive grant opportunity focused on behavioral health because it’s an underserved need, and a challenge across boundaries: rural and urban, young and old, rich or poor. Too many people don’t receive proper care for their mental health, substance abuse, or other behavioral challenges—even if they’re receiving regular primary or specialized care.

According to the Institute of Healthcare Improvement, an estimated minimum of 50% of primary care visits have a behavioral health component.

But we need to do more than provide behavioral health services; we need to ensure those services are integrated with traditional physical health care. What does that mean, exactly? It means that there should be “No Wrong Door” for patients. Even if a primary care physician or a specialist can’t directly address a behavioral health challenge, they should be able to point patients toward the appropriate resources, support, and care.

And connecting people to services is just the first step. Truly integrated care includes patients and providers partnering to coordinate care, co-manage illnesses and challenges, and work holistically toward a healthier patient. The Health Fund believes that a “whole person” approach to healthcare can improve health outcomes, while also reducing costs and saving time for providers and patients alike.

Coming up: Healthy Aging and Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyles for Children

We are currently accepting proposals for our Healthy Aging initiative. You can read more on our blog and find more details here. [Update: this grant opportunity is now closed.]

This fall, we’ll launch our third proactive initiative: Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles for Children. Stay tuned to the website and blog for announcements, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on our grants, programs, and priorities.


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