Taking on Tough Issues

From the President’s Desk

When I think about the tough social issues nonprofits and philanthropies tackle, I am reminded of a comic strip depicting a man at a desk faced with three boxes.

The first box says ‘Inbox,’ holding just a few sheets of paper.

The second box says ‘Outbox’—nearly empty again.

The third box says ‘Too Hard,’ and in it is paper stacked almost to the ceiling.

It’s time to tackle the ‘Too Hard’ box, and that’s what the Trust is working to achieve in Forsyth County and around the state.

In this issue of Catalyst we spotlight three issues labeled ‘Too Hard’ for too long: the financially disadvantaged’s lack of access to oral health care, the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, and the state’s failure to expand Medicaid. The Trust is making bold investments in these areas with an eye on long-term impact, understanding current realities, and taking advantage of new opportunities.

We’ve had some victories—the first sprint in a marathon toward long-term community health—but there is more work to be done. The Trust is committed to helping communities in the long-term when we believe our attention and investments can make a difference for thousands of people.

We may not be able to empty the ‘Too Hard’ box today or even next year, but we’d like to try. If the stack is shorter a decade from now, we’ll know we’re on the right track.

Oral health in Forsyth County: Financially disadvantaged families and individuals in Forsyth County have limited access to oral health care.  The Trust recently invested in a massive, two-day oral health clinic that served 850 people. And under new leadership, the Cleveland Avenue Dental Clinic is working to serve patients year round at low or no cost. However, we know these solutions don’t come close to meeting the overwhelming need. The Trust continues to work with community leaders and providers in Forsyth County to develop a long-term solution to the lack of access to oral health care, and we’re excited by the momentum we see. Oral Health is one of the Trust’s Poor and Needy Division’s focus areas, and we will invest the time and resources necessary to tackle this complex problem. Read more.

Fighting childhood obesity in under-resourced rural communities: Healthy Places NC, the Trust’s initiative to improve health in rural North Carolina, continues to grow. Many of the children in the communities we’re committed to have few quality spaces to play and be active. In four Healthy Places NC counties, the Trust has invested in new and improved fitness and playground equipment at 50 schools. And in many communities, these facilities are the only play space or gymnasium for miles, so the Trust is also working with the schools to guarantee communities have access to these new and improved facilities afterschool hours. Read more.

Expanding Medicaid to offer health care to 500,000 more North Carolinians: In December, the Trust and the Cone Health Foundation released a report that found expanding Medicaid by 2016 in North Carolina would lead to approximately $22 billion in increased business activity for the state, 43,000 more jobs, and nearly 500,000 more people insured. The first-of-its-kind report includes county-specific data for all 100 North Carolina counties.

This is not a partisan issue for us, it’s a people issue. The state’s refusal to expand Medicaid is costing North Carolina billions of dollars, and even worse, it’s costing financially disadvantaged families access to affordable health care. Read more.