New Tools for Community Health

Health Legacy Foundations

Under federal law, millions of dollars resulting from the sale of nonprofit hospitals are being earmarked to improve health in North Carolina communities. With support from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers’ (NCNG) Emerging Health Foundations Initiative is shepherding the creation of these new ‘health legacy foundations’ across the state. NCNG provides the new grant-makers with training and support, connects them to peers to share best practices, and shares administrative support, as well as leadership and board development training.

“The rise in health legacy foundations, many in rural communities, means a great deal of money now available to support communities around the state with long-term health challenges and health care access issues,” said Allen Smart, interim president at the Trust. “These foundations have the opportunity to work closely with the communities they serve in a meaningful way to improve health. The Trust is partnering with NCNG to support these foundations and ensure they have the tools needed to be an asset in the effort to make North Carolina a healthier place to live.”

One of the new health legacy foundations, Impact Alamance, based in Burlington, NC, was founded in 2013 as the result of the merger of Cone Health and Alamance Regional Medical Center. “Impact Alamance has an endowment of $54 million, which in a county of 150,000 people, makes for a good size foundation for our community,” said Tracey Grayzer, president of Impact Alamance. “We want our grant-making to have sustainable, long-term impact, so we are focusing investments where they can change systems, enhance the built environment of our community, and improve policy to benefit area residents.”

NCNG partnered with Impact Alamance to share best practices and guidance as the foundation began determining its vision for the County. NCNG served as a valuable resource on operational issues such as board and leadership development and understanding the issues faced by foundations.

“Impact Alamance spent a year undergoing a comprehensive strategic planning process. We wanted to learn from others and educate our board about the needs of our community,” said Grayzer. “We identified the need to create new and better community structures and supports, which means changing the way systems designed for our families and our youngest residents work. To do that, we are committed to collaborating with the agencies and institutions in Alamance County serving children.”

In the long term, Impact Alamance plans to focus on addressing the social determinants of health in the county, where nearly 30 percent of children live in poverty.

Impact Alamance is investing the majority of its funds in three strategic priority areas:

Healthy Kids:

Early childhood funding will focus on creating an environment where all kids 0-5 are physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively ready for school.

Healthy Community:

Funding will focus on working to create better outcomes for kids- including strengthening our community’s collective vision for high-quality public education. Funding will also focus on building the capacity of local nonprofits and educators to advance and strengthen the work they do for Alamance County.

Community Health Fund:

Grant opportunities are available to help the community to meet needs outside of Impact Alamance’s priority areas. This is designed for one-time funding in smaller amounts to bring about new ideas or expand and enhance community health.

“We’re working to connect the dots in Alamance County, so that kids, regardless of zip code, have equal opportunities to succeed in life,” said Grayzer. “We’re also working with our local health care providers to recognize that social determinants such as poverty are the basis for a person’s physical and mental health outcomes. And these providers are beginning to see the connection.”

Impact Alamance knows that improving systems requires long-term commitment and investment. “We won’t move the needle overnight on poverty,” added Grayzer. “We’re bringing together all of our community partners, including representatives providing social services, our educational institutions, the health department, parks and recreation, the Chamber of Commerce, and other local leaders.”

“The North Carolina Network of Grantmakers’ support and guidance allowed us to hit the ground running. We didn’t need to recreate the wheel to start a new organization,” said Grayzer. “With help from NCNG and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, we also have expertise at our fingertips and the capacity to make meaningful investments in our community that will help our residents achieve better health outcomes.”

“In the end, Impact Alamance wants people to choose to live in our community because our schools are good, jobs and opportunities are plentiful, and our community is healthy and vibrant,” concluded Grayzer. “It’s a vision we share with community leaders and something Alamance County can come together to support.”

Impact Alamance has only begun its grant-making, but to date, Impact Alamance has invested $2 million in projects, including:

City of Burlington Recreation and Parks Department. Impact Alamance is investing $500,000 in partnership with the City of Burlington to build a splash pad to increase opportunities for physical activities for families.
Child Care Center at Alamance Community College. ACC’s Child Care Center was awarded $52,200 to expand and renovate an outdoor play area to encourage more physical activity among pre-school children there.
Allied Churches. Allied Churches was awarded $12,000 to create an outdoor learning environment and play area for residents and guests.
Alamance Burlington School System. ABSS received a $750,000 commitment over five years to create a professional development program for teacher leaders.
Community organizations. Allied Churches of Alamance County, Alamance Citizens for Education, Alamance County Dispute Settlement and Youth Services, Inc., the Ebenezer United Church of Christ Outreach Program and the Women’s Resource Center of Alamance County have been awarded grants for capacity building.