News and Learning

 

Taking Stock of Three-Years of the

Healthy People Healthy Places Program

 

The Sewall Foundation launched the Healthy People Healthy Places program in the fall of 2014 with two categories of grants: Integration of Environment and Human Well-being (Integrated) and Improving Systems for Meeting Basic Human Needs (BHN).  This summer, staff and board began reviewing the first three years of the program, including application and funding trends and the Foundation’s ability to advance the program strategies and related commitments to learning, capacity building, and equity.  Out of this process arose a great deal of learning that warrants further consideration and prompts interim changes for 2018.
 
By design, the Healthy People Healthy Places grant programs are broad.  We did not want to overly limit the scope of work that could fit within the programs at the outset – allowing us to get a better sense of the work that organizations and communities are doing around the state.  This breadth provided opportunities to support, and learn from, a wide range of initiatives and also created a number of challenges for applicants and the Foundation.
 
For example, our review of application and funding trends reveals sizeable gaps between the number of applications that we receive and those that are funded; only 55% of Integrated and 32% of BHN requests have been funded over the course of the program. Of the proposals that are funded, many receive partial funding, which can negatively impact an organization’s ability to achieve its goals. The breadth of the program areas makes it difficult, despite our best efforts, to provide meaningful guidance to potential applicants, perpetuating a situation in which nonprofit organizations invest considerable time developing proposals with limited likelihood of success.
 
In short, our preliminary review surfaced a dissonance within and among our values, programming, and processes that is important to more fully explore and address.  Our program assessment work, which began this summer and will continue through the coming year, is intended to allow for better realization of the goals of the Healthy People Healthy Places program including our commitment to equity, funder-grantee relationships, learning, and capacity building – all in the context of our organizational values.
 
We recognize that any shifting in Foundation programs can be alarming.  We wish to stress that we are not making a wholesale shift in programming; rather we are working to refine and clarify our existing programs and improve our grant-making process.  Nonprofits and other partners have already contributed much to this process and our commitment to being informed by and learning from those working in community remains strong.
 
Please check below for a description of upcoming 2018 program changes, details of which will be available on our website when the application period opens on November 15.  As always, we are happy to hear from you and will do our best to keep you informed as this work evolves.
 
Sincerely,
Jay, Megan, Lauress, Lisa, Tom and Laura

 

 

Please note the following changes to the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation's

Healthy People Healthy Places program

APPLICABLE FOR 2018 ONLY

 
Integration of Environment and Human Well-being:  The Sewall Foundation will issue additional guidance to those seeking funding through the Integration of Environment and Human Well-being grant program. This guidance will provide clarifying information on trends in our giving including areas that are more and less likely to be funded, grant award amounts, and other information that we hope will help potential applicants better determine fit with the program and size of requests. This information will be posted on our website as soon as possible and no later than November 15, at which point we will begin accepting applications for the January 16, 2018 deadline.
 
Improving Systems for Meeting Basic Human Needs:  To build on the work that has been successful in the past while providing the Foundation the time necessary to research and develop a clearer focus and improved process for our work in the Improving Systems for Meeting Basic Human Needs program - which sees the lowest success rate for applicants - we will be accepting applications ONLY from organizations that have previously been awarded funding through this program between 2015 and 2017.  A simpler, less time-intensive application process is being developed for the 2018 grant round and communication will be forthcoming to eligible applicants by mid-November in advance of the January 16, 2018 deadline. 
 
Animal Welfare & Legacy:  We do not anticipate any changes to the Foundation’s Animal Welfare and Legacy programs at this time.

 

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Sewall Foundation Integrated Well-Being Forum
 
On September 18, 2105 Sewall Foundation staff and board gathered with representatives of nonprofits who recently received grants through the Healthy People Healthy Places program to discuss the inherent link between environmental and human well-being.  Read the forum agenda, Jay Espy’s opening remarks, Brad Gentry’s presentation, and a summary of the day's Discussion Themes and Learnings
 
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The Foundation’s
 Healthy People Healthy Places Program
 
Click here to watch the Healthy People Healthy Places Webinar
 

For the past six years, the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation supported programs and organizations throughout Maine engaged in three broad categories of activity: Animal Welfare, Environment and Human Well-Being.  Beginning in 2015, the Foundation changed its approach to grant making in the areas of the Environment and Human Well-Being.  A new integrated program entitled, “Healthy People Healthy Places”,  replaced the previously separate Environment and Human Well-Being program areas.

 

We recognize that any time a funder modifies its priorities or changes its guidelines, many questions are likely to arise among those seeking support.  Therefore, we held a webinar, open to those seeking information about the Sewall Foundation’s new direction. Foundation staff described the Healthy People Healthy Places Program, discussed its implications for future grant making as well as non-grant related activities and answered questions.