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Press Release: MHCF Gives $1.3 Million To MT Health Departments

Public Health, Health News, Foundation Updates

Bozeman, Mont –  The Montana Healthcare Foundation announced that it will make $1.3 million in grants to health departments throughout the state beginning in March 2015. “Local and Tribal health departments are in a great position to help us identify health needs in Montana’s communities,” said Aaron Wernham, the foundation’s CEO. “Our goal is to improve health and strengthen public health services throughout the state.”

Since the Foundation is just beginning to build the infrastructure needed to make and administer grants—and won’t have its own grantmaking system fully operational until next year—the Foundation will distribute the funds with help from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

DPHHS has the infrastructure and expertise to assist the Foundation on a one-time basis. And the goals of the Foundation’s grant are consistent with the state’s health improvement plan. These funds will provide critically needed support to local and Tribal health officials seeking to improve the health of Montanans.

“Improving the health of every Montanan is really what we are about,” said Richard Opper, the Director of DPHHS. “We often rely on partners and are delighted to collaborate with the Montana Healthcare Foundation.”

Cooperation between a non-profit and state agency is common. “DPHHS has master agreements with local and Tribal health departments already in place, which will streamline the administration of these grants,” said Wernham. “DPHHS will also provide data and technical assistance to help make sure these grants are successful.”

Here’s how it will work.

The Foundation will make $1.3 million available to health departments throughout the state and DPHHS will manage the process. Most of the money, $900,000, will be used by health departments to better understand the health needs in their communities and to improve the delivery of public health services. The balance of the money will be used by DPHHS to provide technical assistance, including onsite training and data collection and analysis.

On behalf of the Foundation, DPHHS will issue guidelines that will assist communities to apply for grants. There are three levels of funding and health departments can select which is most appropriate for their communities. Depending on which level health departments apply for, funding will be provided to develop community leadership, develop strategic health improvement plans, or implement specific health programs.

Foundation leaders believe that this initial round of giving will have several significant benefits. It will give local and Tribal health departments greater capacity to improve the health of their constituents. It will provide the Foundation and DPHHS information on health needs and the best strategies and partners to address them. And it will also help the Foundation plan future grantmaking programs.

“This is a great way to kick off our efforts to improve the health of everyone in Montana,” said Wernham. “We appreciate DPHHS’s technical expertise and administrative help which will allow us to begin building partnerships with communities around the state.”