Spokane Housing Ventures and Empire Health Foundation Break Ground on New Affordable Housing Complex in Hillyard

Project to address affordable housing needs in Spokane County and provide safe, stable housing for families

SPOKANE, Wash. — Empire Health Foundation and Spokane Housing Ventures together announced Tuesday their joint investment in Jayne Auld Manor, a new multi-family affordable housing complex in Hillyard that will become home to 48 families and approximately 150 people of all ages beginning October 2020. Construction has already begun on the complex which is located at 6228 N. Lacey St. in Spokane.

The partnership between Spokane Housing Ventures and Empire Health Foundation was forged in response to the housing crisis facing Spokane County, where affordable housing currently accounts for less than one percent of the local market. Due to the shortage in affordable housing, low-income individuals and families face significant barriers in finding safe, affordable and stable housing here in Spokane.

“This is a homelessness prevention project. The families who will live here deserve this new chance for safety and stability, on the path towards self-reliant citizenship in Hillyard. We’re grateful for this new partnership with Empire Health Foundation. What Ventures calls residents’ “flourishing” is a good match for Empire’s wellness goals for everyone in Eastern Washington,” said John Hancock, Executive Director of Spokane Housing Ventures.

“Empire Health Foundation believes that health is a fundamental human right. Studies show that health outcomes are influenced by more than just medicine. Safe, stable and affordable housing is absolutely essential in improving one’s health outcomes and quality of life. We are proud to partner with Spokane Housing Ventures and our funding partners to invest in the health of our community and help prevent housing insecurity for low income people across Spokane,” said Jeffrey Bell, Interim President of Empire Health Foundation.

In Spokane County, the average median income (AMI) for a 4-person household is $71,700. Jayne Auld Manor will specifically target workforce households with 43 of the apartments reserved for households at or below 60% of the county AMI, four apartments for households at or below 30% of AMI, 10 households for families with four or more people, and five apartments reserved for persons with disabilities. 

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost-burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. Studies show families with access to affordable rent were found to increase their discretionary income by 77 percent, freeing up funds to spend on health insurance, food, and education.

Funding for Jayne Auld Manor was made possible with both public and private funds. Funding partners include: Washington State Housing Finance Commission, Banner Bank, National Equity Fund, Inc., Washington State Department of Commerce Housing Trust Fund, City of Spokane HOME funds and Empire Health Foundation.


Spokane Housing Ventures (SHV) is a non-profit low-income housing manager and developer, founded in Spokane in 1992. It currently owns and manages 1,125 apartments in 10 counties across Washington, providing safe and affordable housing for adults, families, and seniors on a path to security and self-determination. For more information, visit spokanehousingventures.org.


Empire Health Foundation is a private health foundation based in Spokane, Washington with philanthropic assets totaling approximately $76 million. Through partnerships with key community leaders, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, EHF seeks to move the dial equitably, measurably and sustainably on health by investing in improvements in health outcomes, strengthening health systems, growing physician supply, building nonprofit capacity and advancing health equity. For more information, visit empirehealthfoundation.org.



Empire Health Foundation Announces Resignation of Founding President, Antony Chiang

EHF Board Chair, Jeffrey Bell, will be appointed Interim President

SPOKANE, Wash. – August 13, 2019 – Empire Health Foundation’s (EHF) Board of Directors today announced the resignation of its President, Antony Chiang. Jeffrey Bell, current Chair of the Board, will be appointed Interim President. The Board has begun a search for Chiang’s successor.

Chiang, EHF’s founding president since 2010, has accepted the role of Chief Executive Officer for Dogwood Health Trust of Asheville, North Carolina, a health conversion foundation with an endowment of approximately $1.5 billion and a mission of improving the health and well-being of all people and communities in Western North Carolina. Chiang will remain with EHF through mid-September.

“I am so grateful for the honor and privilege to have served the communities and Tribes of eastern Washington as the founding President of Empire Health Foundation. What an incredible life opportunity to help design the DNA of the organization from the ground up in close collaboration with the Board, team and community partners,” said Chiang. “The Board and team’s dedication to health equity and their courage to take bold, innovative bets for measurable change are an inspiration to me. I look back on nearly 10 years of impact and could not be prouder of them. I will continue to cheer them on for another incredible 10 years of impact going forward. It is incredibly hard for me to leave EHF and for my family to leave the place and the people we called home. We will miss everyone dearly.”

“Antony’s impact on improving the lives of our most vulnerable residents in our region is immeasurable. His boldness, courage and compassion make him a great leader,” said Bell. “The founding Board of EHF made the right decision in hiring Antony 10 years ago and in that time Antony has made EHF a health foundation leader in innovation and impact. We will all miss Antony greatly and wish him nothing but success as CEO of Dogwood Health Trust. The EHF Board is confident with our national reputation and highest quality staff, we will find the next great leader for our foundation.”

As the founding president of EHF and in collaboration with a mission-driven board and a network of community and government leaders, Chiang designed and guided the foundation’s mission of measurably and sustainably improving the health of people across eastern Washington. His innovative and collaborative approach to philanthropy helped staff deliver programs, policies and systems changes that improved health outcomes and advanced health equity in rural, Tribal and urban communities, along with establishing EHF as a highly-regarded health-based philanthropic leader and innovator at both the regional and national levels. Under Chiang’s leadership, EHF grew the impact of its endowment nine-fold, leveraging more than $320 million in new funding to the region and stewarding nearly $70 million in annual funding.

In close collaboration with partners, EHF invested in transformative systems change that moved the needle on health and health equity including: radically reducing the uninsured rate in the region, improving the childhood obesity rate, reducing out of school suspension rates and disparities, increasing the pipeline of primary care physicians, reducing the entry rate disparities into foster care, among others. EHF has been recognized with national, state, and regional awards for its innovative approach with partners and measurable impact and results.

“Antony Chiang has quietly been the beating heart behind the transformation of Spokane into a community of innovative compassion,” said Rob McCann, President & CEO of Catholic Charities Eastern Washington. “EHF's growth over the past 11 years and its ability to incubate big ideas and then release them into the eastern Washington ecosystem can be traced directly to Antony's servant leadership and his ability to think on levels that are simply on a different plane than most of us who live in the world of serving others. Antony's leadership of EHF has done more than just guide an organization. It's led our entire half of the state to a place where we can finally identify, confront and start to solve the social determinants of health - the reasons behind why so many poor people are often so sick and why so many sick people are often so poor. Antony has been a dynamic change agent in our community for over a decade but more importantly he has created entire organizations that will continue to be disrupters for good and protectors of the most vulnerable in our midst for decades to come.”

“Antony has been a champion in Spokane for the promotion of medical education and biomedical research at WSU-Spokane, said Ken Roberts, Vice Dean for Academic & Community Partnerships, WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. “Under his leadership, EHF led the way in support for expanded medical education and continued support for key initiatives, such as funding the foundation for a Native American program in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. We will be forever thankful.”

Empire Health Foundation is a private health foundation based in Spokane, Washington with philanthropic assets totaling approximately $76 million. Through partnerships with key community leaders, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, EHF seeks to move the dial equitably, measurably and sustainably on health by investing in improvements in health outcomes, strengthening health systems, growing physician supply, building nonprofit capacity and advancing health equity.


Premera Blue Cross Announces Investment to Expand Rural Health Care Access in Eastern Washington

Investments will add doctors, improve health outcomes in rural communities

SPOKANE, Wash. – July 31, 2019– Premera Blue Cross, a leading health plan in the Pacific Northwest, today announced a major investment in eastern Washington to expand health care access and improve quality of care in rural communities. 

Premera will award $10.5 million in grants over the next four years to Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and Empire Health Foundation. 

“Premera is proud to support Washington State University and Empire Health Foundation in their efforts to deliver health care to remote and medically underserved communities in our state,” said Jeff Roe, President and CEO of Premera Blue Cross. “With the growing disparity between urban and rural health care access, it is critical to invest in effective, long-term solutions like rural medical residency programs and more integrated services that will help close this gap.”

According to a 2017 study from the National Rural Health Association,people living in rural areas suffer worse health outcomes than their urban counterparts. They are sicker, poorer and older and are more likely to experience higher rates of premature death, disability and chronic disease. In Washington state, more than a million people, or 14 percent of the state’s population, live in rural communities.

Premera is awarding $5.5 million in grants to the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, to support the family medicine residency program at Pullman Regional Hospital and to establish new sites for graduate medical residency programs in eastern Washington. 

Since its founding in 2015, the school has championed expanding medical education and health care access to underserved and rural communities across the state. With 100 percent of its students from Washington, and an emphasis on recruiting students from the same challenging health care environments they intend to serve, the college is working to ensure students gain valuable experience in rural health care environments beginning in their undergraduate years and continuing through residency. 

“The demand for skilled medical professionals in our rural communities is not being met today. By creating residency programs in rural areas, we will greatly increase the likelihood that our graduates will remain in those communities to practice medicine,” said Kirk Schulz, president of Washington State University. “With investments in medical education and training, motivated clinical students are better prepared to meet the unique health challenges in underserved areas, and we are thrilled that this partnership will help advance this important initiative and improve health outcomes for the communities we serve.”

Premera will award $5 million in grants to Empire Health Foundation. Premera’s investment in rural health initiatives will make possible a wide variety of grants administered by Empire Health that will help break down health care siloes and address the challenges of availability and equity. Empire believes medical education and training combined with integrated services are essential building blocks for a sustainable and affordable health care system. But this wholistic approach is not always taken to address current challenges. 

“Empire Health Foundation believes whether you live in a rural or urban community, healthcare is a fundamental right. Our rural residents face daunting healthcare challenges in their communities, including limited resources and barriers to access. We are committed to changing that situation by partnering with communities to identify innovative, local solutions. Premera’s investment in rural hospital infrastructure and workforce will play a meaningful role in achieving this goal for rural Washingtonians,” said Jeffrey Bell, board chair of Empire Health Foundation.

This partnership is part of a larger program to improve access to care in rural areas. The company is focusing its investments in the following areas: physician, nurse and health aide recruitment and training; clinical integration of behavioral health; provider to provider consultations to support isolated rural doctors; and, programs to increase the capacity of mental health crisis centers in rural areas.

Learn more about how Premera is investing in rural communities here.




Premera Blue Cross, a not-for-profit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association based in Mountlake Terrace, Wash., is a leading health plan in the Pacific Northwest, providing comprehensive health benefits and tailored services to approximately 2 million people, from individuals to Fortune 100 companies. 


The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is Washington’s community-based medical school. Named after Washington State University’s late president, Dr. Elson S. Floyd, the college was created to expand medical education and health care access in communities across the state. Accredited in October 2016, the college welcomed its inaugural class in August 2017. For more information, visit medicine.wsu.edu


Empire Health Foundation is a private health foundation based in Spokane, Wash., with philanthropic assets totaling approximately $76 million. Through partnerships with key community leaders, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, EHF seeks to move the dial equitably, measurably and sustainably on health by investing in improvements in health outcomes, strengthening health systems, growing physician supply, building nonprofit capacity and advancing health equity.

NATIVE Project seeking Spokane area graduates for July event

Originally published by Tribal Tribune

SPOKANE – The NATIVE Project of Spokane is currently opening registration for tribal members in the Spokane area for a Spokane Native American Graduation ceremony set to take place in July at Gonzaga University.

The ceremony is for Native American and Alaska Native students studying or living in the Spokane area who are completing GED programs, high school, undergraduate, graduate, technical or professional programs.

The Spokane Area Native American Graduation Committee, made up of community members and representatives from area public schools and college, has opened registration through April 15.

The project is sponsored by the Empire Health Foundation, Eastern Washington University, Community Colleges of Spokane, Spokane Public Schools, North Idaho College, Gonzaga University, and Washington State University Health Science Campus. 

Registration forms can be found here.

Shifting a menu toward scratch-made

Published by the Food Service Director

Spokane Public Schools in Spokane, Wash., received a grant to help begin its scratch-made menu.  Three and half years ago, Empire Health Foundation, a regional charitable foundation, awarded the district $1 million to fund its efforts, which included training for all nutrition staff and implementation of a menu that included scratch-made options.  

The district decided to split the training into waves and take things step by step, says Garrett Berdan, menu supervisor. 

“We had managers go through in phases. We had a first wave of kitchens who wanted to be the pioneers into the program and so they were the first kitchens that went to scratch, and then we had training for the remainder of the kitchens,” he says. “Everyone by now has been training through the program, and so we’re continuing to plug along.”

The district’s latest push toward scratch-made is a new cafeteria at one of its elementary schools dedicated to producing meals in-house. When choosing what would be included in the new back of house, Berdan says that the team made sure to purchase equipment that would serve them well into the future. 

“We found a lot of use in combi ovens, so we made sure to have a double combi oven in this kitchen,” he says. “We also have a double convection oven, and then we have a steam jacketed kettle for soups and sauces.” 

Popular scratch-made items include pasta dishes and a creamy Thai chicken over rice. 

“We use a sunflower seed butter as kind of part of the sauce and [that dish] comes together really nicely,” Berdan says. “It has great flavor.”

Approximately a quarter of the district’s menu is scratch-made. Berdan currently has a whiteboard full of ideas for potential additions to next school year’s menu. 

“I’m thinking of … making hummus in-house and doing a sort of a hummus and pita or hummus and chips grab-and-go lunch item,” he says. “I’m also considering doing a housemade granola for our menu, which would be a great feature at all levels.”

Read the full article here.