Philanthropy Center featured in Spokesman Review, March 16
Empire Health upgrades space
Foundation moving to historic Riverside site
By Becky Kramer
A new sign announcing “The Philanthropy Center” went up this month at the old Chamber of Commerce building on Riverside Avenue.
The landmark building – with its distinctive Italianate columns – is the new home of Empire Health Foundation. In the warm, light-filled space, the foundation’s staff and community leaders will grapple with solutions to pressing social issues, such as reducing obesity rates, helping families stay together and improving access to health care.
“We want people flowing through this building,” said Antony Chiang, the foundation’s president. “I want it to be a hub of nonprofit collaboration and learning.”
Empire Health Foundation spent about $2.7 million on the building’s purchase and renovation. It was a big step for the region’s largest charitable foundation, which manages an $86 million endowment earmarked for improving health outcomes in seven Eastern Washington counties. Chiang said he wants the foundation to be known forits work, not a glitzy office space.
But two years ago, he was at a crossroads. The lease was expiring for the foundation’s belowmarket- rate rented quarters. Architect Sue Lani Madsen, the foundation’s board president, encouraged Chiang to think about how “saving a
Antony Chiang, president of Empire Health Foundation, stands March 13 on the balcony inside the former Chamber of Commerce building, where his foundation is moving and upgrading the building.
PHOTOS BY JESSE TINSLEYjesset@spokesman.com
The former Chamber of Commerce building, shown March 13, is now a place for like-minded nonprofits to meet and collaborate.
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historic building” on Riverside could further the foundation’s mission while giving it a permanenthome. “She said, ‘Here’s this amazing historic boulevard with empty buildings. What a shame. Let me plant a seed,’” said Chiang, recalling the conversation.
Madsen had recently toured the chamber building with her mom, who remembered attending North Central High School’s prom in the downstairs ballroom. Madsen saw potential in the 1930 brick building tucked between the Spokane Club and the Masonic Center. The foundation frequently rented space for large meetings. The ballroom could provide that.
“I think this buildingmight have the space we’re looking for,” she told Chiang. But it wasn’t a quick decision. “It had those ugly, invisible challenges that are sometimes the death of old buildings,” Madsen said.
About 70 percent of the remodeling costs went into bringing the building up to code, including overhauling the plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems and installing an elevator.
Earlier this month, about 35 employees moved into the renovated space at 1020 W. Riverside. The interior has a strikingly modern feel, thanks to an open design and generous amounts of natural light.
A large skylight – painted over during World War II – was restored, providing natural light for the main level. The ballroom is in a daylight basement that faces Main Avenue,with two banks of windows.
“We kept telling the architect, ‘It can’t look ostentatious,’ ” Chiang said.
“It’s going to be costconscious,” Marian Evenson, a principal in MMEC Architecture and Interiors, finally told him, “but it’s going to look amazing.”
In addition to Empire Health Foundation staff, the building houses employees of Better Health Together, a subsidiary, and other nonprofits, including Washington Bikes and the Spokane Tribal Network.
The ballroom will host its first large meeting on April 30, a symposium on improving dental care for adults and children.
For about a year, the foundation will offer the meeting space free of charge to like-minded groups, Chiang said. After the foundation gets a handle on costs, it will rent out the ballroom on a break-even or subsidized basis.
He visited other nonprofit centers in Portland, New York and San Francisco during the planning for the building’s renovation. “In Portland, they have a waiting list every week for use of their common space,” Chiang said.
Empire Health Foundation was created in 2008 with proceeds from the sale of two nonprofit hospitals - Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital - to Fortune 500 company Community Health Systems Inc. In 2013, the endowment nearly doubled with a $40 million donation from Providence Health Care.
The foundation provides about $4 million each year for addressing pressing health-related issues in the seven Eastern Washington counties.This year, it will manage another $14 million in grants and matching funds.
“This building gives us a certain presence,” Madsen said. “We’re fairly young, but we intend to stick around. We’re serious about this commitment to a healthier community.”
Empire Health Foundation Featured in Grantmakers in Health Bulletin, March 2015
Empire Health Foundation – 2014 Year in Review
by Antony Chiang,December 2014
Philanthropic Impact and Results:
In 2014, EHF accelerated its track record of moving the dial on health in our region.
Obesity Prevention: 11 school districts have converted to healthy scratch cooking as an anchor strategy. We are excited to partner with Spokane Public Schools in 2015, which will double the number of meals impacted to over 3 million meals per year in the next 3 years. Of the first 4 intervention districts, three of them have seen measured improvements in obesity rates.
Health Care Access: Of several important Better Health Together initiatives, one highlight is the In Person Assistor program, which has enrolled 70,000 uninsured patients – an enormous increase from the original contracted target of 10,000.
Mitigating Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in the K-12 sector: EHF partnered with Spokane Public Schools and Rodgers High School to reduce out-of-school suspensions by 35% in one school year through a multi-pronged trauma-informed strategy. While short of our bold goal of a 50% reduction, we are still excited about the impact.
Preventing and Mitigating ACEs through the Child Welfare sector: WA State Children’s Administration will be signing a contract with EHF’s subsidiary, Family Impact Network (FIN) to be the state’s first Network Administrator for Performance Based Contracting. FIN will likely manage $7-8 million in service dollars in 2015. This is a major step that positions our region to improve outcomes for children and families in the Child Protective Services system. Co-investment by other funders has accelerated progress.
Pipeline of Primary Care Physicians: After several decades of capped residency slots, the region welcomed 6 new residents to the Spokane Teaching Health Center in 2014 (compared to an existing 75). With the recent approval of another class and a Psychiatry program, next year could potentially bring in 15 total new residents. If federal funds are renewed, the pipeline will be increased by 60% in 4 years. If not, they will fall to their prior levels. This initiative has the greatest risk of losing our initial impact gains.
Capacity Building: The team continued to catalyze bringing $5 million in new funding and resources to the region in 2014. To date EHF has helped bring $149 million in funding to partners in the region and state, compared to $11 million directly from our endowment over the same time period.
Dental Emergencies Needing Treatment (DENT)
EHF partnered with Providence and the Washington Dental Services Foundation to support a pilot project called DENT designed to reduce unnecessary Emergency Room utilization for dental emergencies and to coordinate a network of oral health care providers to improve access, health, and reduce costs for this population. In less than 5 months, DENT helped connect more than 575 patients to appropriate oral health treatment.
2014 Responsive Grant Awards
Healthcare Insurance Enrollment Here is Near Top of Exchange
Journal of Business, April 10, 2014
Washington State Health Benefit Exchange is one of the national leaders among states in enrolling participants in qualified health plans, and Spokane County is one of the top counties for enrollment in the state, based on preliminary data compiled by the exchange. Read more
Empire Health Foundation to Triple its Giving
Journal of Business, December 05, 2013: By Linn Parish
The Empire Health Foundation is projecting that its investment in health care initiatives next year will grow even faster than the size of its endowment. Antony Chiang, president of the nonprofit health foundation, says the organization this year has contributed $1.8 million toward health-related grant requests and a handful of its own initiatives. Next year, he says, "We're going to triple that."
Teaching Health Center Grant Awarded: Medical Residency Slots to Expand
December 21, 2013, Spokesman Review
A federal grant announced Friday will expand the number of medical residents in Spokane and help create a medical-training clinic in Spokane’s University District, where students and educators will work in teams to find better ways to deliver health care to area residents.
The $900,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services will cover the cost of adding six more medical residents in Spokane. Some of the money will also cover the cost of adding faculty and outfitting the new clinic, said Mike Wilson, senior adviser for Providence Health Care’s Spokane operations.
Providence Health, Washington State University Spokane and the Empire Health Foundation received the grant and will manage the operation as it moves forward. Read More
Cheney school district demonstrated fantastic impact in improving the health of the children they serve. Their work, and partnership with Empire Health Foundation, is featured in a recent newspaper article. EHF's investment in re-training their food service workers as part of our Obesity Prevention initiative is one segment of a multi-prong strategy not only in the schools but also in the communities.
HUD Secretary Donovan and COF CEO Spruill present national award to EHF and partners:
Two school districts, Othello and Cheney, demonstrated amazing commitment to making significant change to improve the health of the children they serve. Their work, and partnership with Empire Health Foundation, is featured in a newspaper article. EHF's investment in re-training their food service workers as part of our Obesity Prevention initiative, is one segment of a multi prong strategy not only in the schools but also in the communities. Cook for America, our partner that designed the "scratch cooking boot camp" that new school districts will go through next year, was recently featured in an ABC Nightline segment (click here to see the article and video).