Sisters Health Foundation announces changes to priority areas


Foundation announces 20 year commitment to mental health and addiction

Staff Report



PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — The Sisters Health Foundation’s new priority areas reflect their vigilant response to meet the most pressing needs of the Mid-Ohio Valley. Starting in their Fall 2020 grant cycle, which opens on May 1, the priority areas that will guide their work are Healthy Eating, Active Living; Thriving Neighborhoods; and Mental Health and Addiction. It is within the third priority area, Mental Health and Addiction, that the foundation’s board and staff have made a 20 year commitment to address these issues.

“We made these changes based on listening to the community’s needs over the past two years,” Executive Director Renee Steffen stated. The foundation met with over 100 organizations at the local, state, and federal levels to help inform their strategy. “Our external environment is constantly changing, so as a funder, we recognize our role is to evolve as well.”

Healthy Eating, Active Living was formerly named Healthy Lifestyles. The new priority area name better clarifies the foundation’s interest in funding. They are supportive of projects and strategies that prevent or manage chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease through healthy eating and active living. Requests that support behavior change are encouraged.

Formerly Health Equity, the new Thriving Neighborhoods priority area speaks to the improvement of the external environment so that everyone has the ability to achieve their full potential. “Rather than exchange one academic term for another – health equity for social determinants of health,” Steffen said, “we decided to simplify it with this more apt title.” The foundation will still maintain emphasis on improving the accessibility, affordability, and quality of health and health care. In addition to this, requests that seek to address neighborhood conditions such as transportation, safe and stable housing, social connectedness, and access to high-quality early childhood programs will be considered. In each priority area, the foundation is interested in cross-sector collaboration and coalition work recognizing that one organization cannot do it all.

The 20 year commitment to addressing mental health and addiction is in response to the recognition that these issues are vastly complex and far-reaching, in which many facets of the community are affected, from schools and foster care systems to food networks and the lives of family and friends. The foundation understands that 2, 3, or 5 years is not enough. Board President Arlene Borkowski stated, “During our strategic planning session this past summer, our board decided to take a bold move and make a 20 year commitment to the initiative of mental health and addiction and it is the first time we have put a long term time frame on any priority area.” Steffen added, “We need to stick with these issues for the long haul to make an impact. We know these issues can be multi-generational. Our hope is that there will be a sense of urgency to respond to these issues in a collaborative way.”

The Fall 2020 grant cycle opens on May 1, under the new priority areas of healthy eating, active living; thriving neighborhoods; and mental health and addiction. The due date is July 15, 2020. By midnight of this date, submit a full application for the Basic Needs/Direct Service Grants Program or a letter of inquiry for the Responsive Grants Program. Nonprofits are encouraged to contact Sr. Molly Bauer, Senior Program Officer, at 304-424-6080 or mbauer@sistershealthfdn.org with questions about whether their grant request may be a good fit for the Basic Needs/Direct Service Grants Program. Letters of inquiry for the Responsive Grants Program may be submitted online at www.sistershealthfdn.org without scheduling a prior phone conversation.

The Sisters Health Foundation promotes healthy and sustainable communities by providing resources, strengthening collaborative relationships and supporting initiatives that impact people in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Since 1996, the Sisters Health Foundation has awarded over $19 million in grants, with several having been awarded in Meigs County.

Foundation announces 20 year commitment to mental health and addiction

Staff Report