Supporting a good idea
Apr 08, 2013 | 353 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As the final in a series of three United Way Health Endowment Fund workshops approaches, it should be reassuring for 501(c)(3) organizations to know their ideas to help meet unmet needs in our community are in good company.

In the past five years, the Health Endowment Fund — which doles out grants to deserving causes using investment income from the 2005 sale of the former Bradley Memorial Hospital — has distributed almost $2.2 million to 31 different and unique programs in our Cleveland and Bradley County community.

All have complied with the funding criteria as specified by the BMH board of trustees in either of three categories: Healthcare, Wellness or Quality of Life.

In some cases, a grant has been awarded by United Way for a one-year commitment. These are called Venture grants.

In other cases, the award is provided over a designated period with the agreement that the grant recipient will work toward self-sufficiency. The grant amount will decrease each year for up to five years depending on sustainability and program benchmarks. These are called Pioneer grants.

The Health Endowment Fund is not intended to provide ongoing, full-time funding for any initiative, no matter what unmet need is being met. The Health Endowment’s objective is to identify legitimate ideas that can benefit our community, to arrive at a level of funding for a designated amount of time, and to encourage the recipient agency to develop a strategy toward sustainability.

The current slate of workshops is providing information and instruction for nonprofit organizations that hope to secure startup funding for 2014. The first two hourlong seminars have been held. The third is coming Wednesday, April 17. It will convene at 10 a.m. in the Community Room of the downtown Cleveland Bradley County Public Library.

A look at the organizations receiving 2013 grants for the first time is strong indication of the diversity, and the use within our hometown, of these community campaigns. These grant recipients, and the needs they are addressing, include Family Promise of Bradley County (homeless), Girls on the Run (mentoring, education and fitness), Habitat for Humanity (a community collaborative to support the nonprofit sector), Museum Center at Five Points (Bradley County history and heritage), The Refuge (computer literacy and job skills development for predominately East Cleveland families), Tri-State Therapeutic Riding Center (equine therapy for the physically and developmentally disabled), Wesley Memorial UMC Sack Pack Program (weekend meals for underprivileged children) and Karis Dental Clinic (dental services for adults without insurance).

To date, grant amounts and percentages by category awarded by the Health Endowment Fund include Healthcare, $840,689 or 39 percent; Wellness, $698,827 or 32 percent; and Quality of Life, $630,985 or 29 percent.

When it comes to community services and meeting unmet needs, no idea is a bad idea. The question is whether it can hold up to a slate of Endowment Fund criteria that govern with purpose. Remember, it is not the fund’s mission to jump-start every brainstorm that comes along. Decisions are based on countless factors, just of few of which include community need, potential for self-sustainability, operational strategy, service duplication, management efficiency and others.

The first two workshops have drawn crowds. No less is expected of the third one.

Our bottom line is this. Does your organization have what it believes is a unique idea that can benefit this community? And all you need is some startup cash?

If your answer is “yes,” then attend this final workshop.

In the meantime, contact Lisa Mantooth, United Way’s director of partner relations at 479-2020, or send her an email at She can answer your early questions and then offer direction on whether the workshop is right for you.