Empire Health Foundation Announces the 2018 Responsive and Rural Aging Grantees

SPOKANE, Wash.– Empire Health Foundation (EHF) has announced the results of the 2018 Responsive and Rural Aging Responsive Grant Programs. This year, the EHF Board of Directors approved the funding of 36 projects totaling 358,110 dollars. The grant programs serve EHF’s seven-county region of Adams, Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Spokane and Whitman Countiesincluding the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservations. 

Some grantees include:

  • 15,000 dollars to the Spokane Eastside Reunion Association to launch a youth workforce development program, which will build academic skills and resiliency, two proven protective factors for youth facing violence, poverty and trauma. 
  • 13,000 dollars to the Spokane Tribe’s Wellpinit Elementary School to enhance cultural identity, which will improve students’ overall psychological wellbeing and academic outcomes.
  • 13,000 dollars to Rural Resources Community Action to ensure rural access to clean and hot water.
  • 7,000 dollars to the Hispanic Business Professional Association to conduct a Health Needs Assessment for and with the Latinx/Hispanic communities in Eastern Washington. 

During the 2018 cycle, 143 applications were submitted, totaling over 1.7 million dollars in requests for grants. Of the 36 approved grants, 20 are Responsive grants totaling 200,000 dollars and 16 are Rural Aging Responsive grants totaling 158,110 dollars. 85 percent of the Responsive grants will address diversity and equity measures in our region to advance health for all. View the full list of grantees here.

“This year, we received applications for projects from throughout the seven counties and three tribal areas where we work to measurably improve health. The diversity of proposals informs us of what communities want and need to become overall healthier places to live and work," said Mary Selecky, Co-Chair of EHF’s Strategies, Policies & Communications Committee.

The Responsive Grants Program is designed to address one-time, emergent needs. Nonprofits, religious institutions, behavioral health organizations and government agencies may apply for funds up to 15,000 dollars. The Rural Aging Grants Program also provides up to 15,000 dollars of funding, but with a focus on one-time projects designed to help older adults in rural communities live full, meaningful lives with independence and dignity.

About Empire Health Foundation:

Empire Health Foundation is a private health conversion foundation formed in 2008 through the sale of Deaconess and Valley Medical, a nonprofit hospital system in Spokane. Stewarding philanthropic assets totaling approximately 77 million dollars, the Foundation invests in ideas and organizations that improve health access, education, research and policy to result in a measurably healthier region. 


Brain Science is Clear: Child Separations Will Have Major Long-Term Negative Impacts.

What do we do? We want to hear from you. 

By: Sarah Lyman, Executive Vice President, and Shivon Brite, Program Director/Director of Strategy

Undoubtedly, the federal child removals at the U.S.-Mexico border will have horrific consequences for the children currently being detained, their families, and other undocumented immigrants. We've seen the heartbreaking impacts of child removals upon Native American communities. Indian boarding schools traumatized hundreds of thousands of children in the 19th Century. Native or not, research proves that forcefully removing children from communities results in poorer public health and devastating losses of cultural wealth.  

Even since President Trump’s executive order, latest counts show roughly 3,000 children are still detained, with little clarity about whether, how or when they will be reunified with their parents. On June 26th, a Federal Judge in California ruled that children and parents separated at the border must be reunited within 30 days. While this is clearly a major milestone, there is still much uncertainty about how this will play out. According to pediatricians and other professionals on the ground, some of the children have been moved to other parts of the country, and many are falling through the cracks without paper trails, making it extremely difficult for parents or other professionals to locate the children. There have been allegations of abuse by patrol officers, and children as young as infants are being neglected and left to cry without physical contact by a caregiver day after day. 

Brain science is clear. Being separated from a parent is a traumatic experience that has lifelong negative impacts on brain development for children. A Harvard study found that children who experienced foster care are nearly twice as likely to suffer from Post  Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than U.S. war veterans returning from tours in Iraq. Now, layer the extreme fear and anxiety experienced by children in these detention centers onto that, where their fate is completely unknown to them, and they are experiencing physical and emotional neglect for extended periods of time in a language many can’t understand or speak.

This is a dangerous and tragic cocktail for vulnerable children who have been stripped of their support system and their human rights. 

As has been clearly validated through many studies, including the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study, childhood traumas like these are strongly associated with adulthood high-risk health behaviors (smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, severe obesity), as well as poor health including depression, heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and shortened lifespan. Compared to an ACE score of zero, having four adverse childhood experiences was associated with a 700% increase in alcoholism, a doubling of risk of being diagnosed with cancer, and a 400% increase in emphysema as an adult. 

Even if these current actions by our government are reversed and children are actually reunified with their parents in the short term, there is no question that these traumatic experiences will have lasting negative consequences. This is a humanitarian crisis - plain and simple. 

Have we not learned anything from our painful history as a country? 

The Indian boarding schools devastated Native communities. Under the pretense of helping Native Nations, the U.S. promoted this assimilation policy with the slogan “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Most of the hundreds of thousands of children were forced into these schools through starvation, where the Federal government withheld food rations until families relinquished children, or kidnapping, where government officials stole children from their homes. Many of these children died from homesickness, working accidents, uncontrolled diseases, and ill-planned escape attempts. Graveyards still sit behind these school dorms and classrooms. These schools were abolished in the 1940’s, but the damage had been done. The surviving children came back to their communities without their Native languages, life ways, religions, or parenting models. They were forever changed and deeply traumatized.

Today, the cumulative effects of these types of human rights violations are called “historical traumas.” Research on historical trauma shows that there are multi-generational health harms. Whether its Jewish children removed in Auschwitz or Native children removed in Washington State, the collective health outcomes are the same – lower life expectancy, poorer health, worse quality of life.

As Shivon Brite, Program Director for EHF’s Native American Health portfolio stated: 

“These child removals are breaking our hearts. We are still living the impact of these types of policies. Impacts that have turned our once large and vibrant communities into a minority among minorities who endure the worst health – period. This discussion needs to include our Tribal leaders. This is our story less than a century ago.” 

It is our duty and obligation as a country, and as fellow human beings to help. Empire Health Foundation is a regional health foundation focused in a small seven-county region and we’ve been asking ourselves: what can we do? What are value-added roles we could play in an effort to step up in the face of this humanitarian crisis? Even though the acute impact is happening in a geographic region far away from our defined service area, the effects of these policies and practices have deep ripples throughout the country and throughout our region. 

Admittedly, we feel somewhat helpless. But some initial ideas of things EHF could directly support include:  

  • Support convenings of local Hispanic/Latinx communities as well as experts such as pediatricians, legal advocates, trauma professionals to identify ways to provide critical counseling, mental health and language services support to the children and families impacted. 
  • Help educate regional groups and policy makers about the impacts of trauma and evidenced based strategies to mitigate the long-term impacts of trauma.
  • Connect mobilized professionals and organizations to other funders who might be able to provide financial resources or link people to existing coordinated efforts.
  • Participate in regional funder networks focused on supporting organizations and efforts working with immigrants and refugee populations.

What else should we be doing to stand up and support families and children in crisis? We want to hear from you. 

Celebrating Spokane Gives

By Christina Kamkosi, EHF Program Coordinator

Spokane Mayor Condon asked, “What makes a city compassionate?” He found that Louisville, Kentucky had been recognized as one of America’s “most compassionate cities” by virtue of their commitment to volunteering in the community. Spokane Mayor David Condon knew that our citizens in Spokane were every bit as caring, so a delegation from Spokane went to Louisville to learn from their successes. 

“That visit really showed us how much we have in common as caring, compassionate communities. Louisville was a little ahead of us in terms of defining its story, but the trip got us thinking about how Spokane rallies to help during large festivals, in times of need, and everywhere in between. Spokane Gives became our way to shine a light on the need for year-round giving, recognize all of the good work already being done in the community, and connect people to their passions,” said Mayor Condon.

Empire Health Foundation (EHF) invests in ideas and organizations that result in a measurably healthier region. Beyond health care, this includes a focus on the social and physical environments that promote good health for all. One attribute of healthy communities is volunteerism. Not only does it address some of the community's most pressing needs, but research also shows that it provides health benefits for the volunteers themselves. 

Inspired by the Mayor's challenge, EHF joined with other partners including the City of Spokane, Spokane County United Way, Whitworth University, Spokane Teachers Credit Union and Windermere Real Estate to launch Spokane Gives. This initiative finds ways to expand the level and impact of volunteering in our community.

Spokane Gives’ first project promoted volunteering by shining a light on work already being done in Spokane. This project then grew to align with National Community Service month of April where a growing number of businesses sponsor mini grants for nonprofit organizations to buy community event supplies.

Spokane Gives has also created an online portal, www.volunteerspokane.org. This portal is managed by United Way and has volunteer opportunities all year-round. When you sign up, you get matched with needs that are of interest to you or get notifications when needs arise. The website also creates a volunteer resume for registrants and tracks the dollar value of volunteer hours which gives you an idea of your individual impact.

Four years after the "compassion challenge", we are delighted to report that the number of volunteers in our community has more than doubled. In addition, we've seen substantial growth in the number of volunteer hours and completed projects.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 11.16.04 AM.png

Since the beginning of Spokane Gives, our community has generated more than six and a half million dollars in volunteer impact. Other incredible outcomes include the adoption of the Charter of Compassion by the Spokane City Council. The Charter for Compassion, crafted by world leaders under the sponsorship of the TED Prize winner, Dr. Karen Armstrong, seeks to foster compassion, civility and positive civic engagement to communities all over the world. The Mayor has also received a national award from Voices for National Service in recognition of Spokane Gives.

We want to thank all the partners and volunteers who have made Spokane Gives a success and invite everyone to join us in the next phase of this journey. “Everyone can make a difference,” said Antony Chiang, president of the Empire Health Foundation. “Big things start with the smallest acts of compassion, generosity and kindness.” Year-round opportunities to plant your seeds of compassion are available at www.volunteerspokane.org. Click here for a video of why others participate in Spokane Gives, and join us in April as we take this initiative to a new level. Stay healthy, be bold and volunteer more! 

Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE) Welcomes Inaugural Executive Director

The Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE) is excited to welcome Laura Flores Cantrell, J.D. as its inaugural Executive Director! Laura will officially join the Andy Hill CARE staff as Executive Director in April. She will be an incredible asset to the work, and will help lead the Board and community partners through the next phase in strategic development, resulting in breakthrough investments for cancer research in Washington State.

Read the full announcement on the CARE website here

Empire Health Foundation (EHF) serves as Program Administrator for the Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE). EHF is responsible for working with expert scientific review panels to provide independent evaluation of grant applications, and will partner with the CARE Board to administer grants to fund cancer research that utilizes the best science with the greatest potential to improve health outcomes for Washingtonians.  

Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE) Distinguished Researchers Program - Request for Applications

The Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment is pleased to announce that it will begin accepting applications for the second cohort of the Distinguished Researchers Program. The Distinguished Researchers Program will match, dollar for dollar, Washington research institutions’, organizations’, and commercial entities’ recruitment commitments up to $500,000 per recruitment, to add value to recruitment packages that bring leading cancer researchers to Washington. Andy Hill CARE grant funds may be used for any purpose (e.g., salaries, equipment, etc.) that advances the scholar’s research.

Please visit the Andy Hill CARE Fund website and the Distinguished Researchers page for a full program description and access to the application portal. The application period for the second cohort is February 15, 2018 to April 10, 2018.

Please contact Peter Choi (peter@empirehealthfoundation.org) with any questions regarding the program or application process.