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Why is a health system investing in communities? Because CHI believes healthier cities and towns mean healthier people

Catholic Health Initiatives recently issued a news release announcing this year’s Mission and Ministry Fund Awards-the annual grants we award across the nation and around world to support the wonderful work being done in the hundreds of communities we serve.

It’s an annual announcement that is dear to my heart and fills me with pride as the leader of this organization. The reason is simple: these grants represent the perfect expression of CHI’s mission, which is to create, support and sustain healthier communities.

In most cases, these projects serve disadvantaged populations and communities–those among us who are most in need.

- Kevin Lofton, CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives

In fact, the Mission and Ministry Fund at CHI was created at the same time the organization began its mission in May 1996. Since then, the fund-an integral part of our past, our present and our future-has provided about $80 million to support almost 500 grants designed to improve the health of entire communities. In most cases, these projects serve disadvantaged populations and communities- those among us who are most in need.

We gave approximately $3.5 million to support 14 separate grants this year that include everything from providing nutritional meals to students in Carrington, North Dakota; developing support systems for homeless patients discharged from area hospitals in Des Moines, Iowa; reducing infant mortality in Peru and Nepal; and reducing the prevalence of domestic violence and bullying in Little Falls, Minnesota. What’s more, in addition to this year’s grants, CHI will give about $5.8 million to 45 ongoing, multi-year grants supported by the Mission and Ministry Fund.

Indeed, violence-prevention efforts have been a particular emphasis for CHI since 2008, when we formed United Against Violence, the only national program of its type sponsored by a health system. Since then, we’ve provided about $19.5 million in funding for a wide array of projects, in collaboration with local community organizations, to reduce child abuse, domestic abuse, gang violence, suicide and sexual assault, among many other areas. I am proud to say we now have a program in about 45 of our communities across the country and a comprehensive, 32-page manual-the Violence Prevention Resource Guide-that has been shared throughout the system as well as in numerous non-CHI communities across the country.

CHI’s largest grant in 2017 was a $2.5 million match of the award we received from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s foremost health care-focused philanthropy. Together, we will implement an innovative model for addressing the social determinants of health. Again, this is the kind of work that underscores CHI’s founding mission to create healthier communities. I look forward to providing more information about this exciting program-as well as many other proud projects-in the coming months.

In these challenging times, when many individuals in this country can’t afford  or even access  medical care, it’s more important than ever for health systems such as CHI to help fill these gaps, acting as a safety net for those in need.

At CHI, we will continue to create healthier communities as we strive to fulfill our number one advocacy priority: assure that all persons have access and coverage for health care services. It’s a basic human right-not a privilege. Let’s all take that to heart.

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