One of Empire Health Foundation's top priorities is building relationships with underserved communities, which has been rewarding and a learning process. For example, our team has invested significant time with the Native American tribes in our region. A summary of our progress to date:
* The team has invested the time to meet tribal members and leaders at their reservation every week for the last several months.
* EHF invited the team from the Potlatch Fund to conduct a learning workshop with staff and board members on how best to build relationships in Indian country. We have continued to give grants to Potlatch to provide our team on-going advice and wisdom.
* EHF has regularly met with the program team at the Gates Foundation to better understand their investments in the tribes and how we can best align.
* The team has provided support and technical assistance (from simple editing, to Letters of Support) to the tribes to submit a number of applications to national funding sources.
* The team collaborated with the Gates Foundation on their domestic violence initiative, and one key result of the collaboration is that two tribes in our region submitted LOIs. EHF also helped connect one tribe to a county partner that was a grantee in the first round of the initiative. We also have worked on ways to complement their investment in capacity building of two CASA programs at two of the tribes.
* After receiving zero applications to our Responsive Grants Program, through outreach and engagement at grant writing workshops, the foundation received nine applications from multiple agencies within two tribes and one native urban service organization. Of these, four were funded in our recently announced grant awards.
While we have a long ways to go and lots to learn, I am encouraged. One key person at one of the tribes told me "people are surprised that the foundation is here to help and work on what the tribe considers important" and " there is a hope for a better future that I haven't seen before."
The foundation is in it for the long haul, and we look forward to continue to collaborate with not only the Native American community, but all of the other underserved communities in our region.