The entire Empire Health Team set aside three full days to invest in learning how to be a more effective in our communication, to work better as an integrated team, and to help design key components necessary to be a high performing team. We are so impatient to be collaborating with partners to make a measurable impact in our community, that it's easy to forget we are a start-up organization and to take the time to get to the next level internally. Another way to think about it is: the more effective we are as a team, the more impact we can have.
One of the amazing reflections was to stop and think that just little over a year ago, this team did not exist, and none of us was doing the type of complex impactful work that we are doing today. The fact that the team is performing at the level they are, is a testament to their passion and dedication to the foundation's mission no matter their role within the foundation.
One of the key deliverables we will be sharing on the website soon is a summary of our key "vitals" for 2011 (our dashboard of metrics that we will be using as both our goals and keeping track of our progress).
The formation of EHF created a significant new source of health funding in the region, but it is still just a drop in the bucket when considering the resources necessary to move the health dials in our counties. One of the design questions that the EHF team has been asking: how can EHF most effectively build relationships with public agencies to increase the impact that we are all trying to achieve?
The EHF team is collaborating with the Pacific Northwest team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. At the outset, we were excited about this learning opportunity and asked ourselves:
How can Empire Health Foundation, as a regional health funder in Eastern Washington, best play a value-added role in engaging with stakeholders in our seven-county region, the team at WSCADV, and program staff at the Gates Foundation around the DV Housing Project? In what specific ways will EHF have the greatest impact?
One of our key design questions has been: "How do we design our teams, our systems, our tools, our infrastructure to facilitate our approach and maximize impact."
The entire program team and grants management team spent two full days reviewing grant management software systems with Marty Schneiderman of Information Age Associates. Now Marty is the undisputed Jedi Master of the field when it comes to technology and grants management software for philanthropy, and his typical clients grant away more in one year than our entire endowment. I wondered how this would translate to a small start up private health conversion foundation with an inexperienced team that is still learning. Through an exhaustive yet smooth process like only Marty can run, he helped us narrow down choices such that we not only owned the decision, but that the solution fit our team and our approach and our programs. (Thanks Marty!)
Here at the foundation, we are constantly thinking about how we can have maximum impact. Measurable impact. What if we told you that we wanted to reduce teen suicide attempts by 50%. Or reduce teenage pregnancy by 30%. Or reduce the school drop out rate by over 60%.
Any one of these you probably would say "that's an ambitious goal, good luck!" Many funders with much more experience than us have tried to move indicators like these, invested amounts with several more zeros on the end of their numbers than we have to invest, and not succeeded with their partners in moving that dial.
Take a look at the data table below, showing the ten year change in ~15 key youth indicators:
Ten year trends, 1998-2008 (Archival & Healthy Youth Survey Data)
Child out of home placements (dependencies): -23%
Child hospitalizations: -9%
Births to moms ages (10-17): -31%
Youth suicide attempts: -59%
Youth alcohol violations: -48%
Youth drug law violations: -28%