WICHITA, KAN. – Five community organizations in Kansas have been awarded grants of $250,000 each through the Community Engagement Initiative to support resident-led efforts to improve health.
Recipients of the Community Engagement Initiative grants include Communities Creating Opportunities, based in Kansas City; Thrive Allen County; United Way of Greater Topeka; United Way of Reno County; and the Wichita State University Foundation.
Recognizing that communities, and the local organizations that serve them, are best positioned to identify and respond to their unique health challenges, the Community Engagement Initiative was created to build the capacity of these local organizations to identify and address community health needs. The Center for Global Policy Solutions, a social change non-profit based in Washington, DC, has been selected as managing partner for the Kansas-based initiative.
According to America’s Health Rankings, a study that ranks states based on health factors such as obesity, chronic disease, and smoking, Kansas ranks 27th in the nation, a steady decline from its 11th place in the initial 1990 rankings. In addition, the State of Obesity report released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also found that Kansas has an adult obesity rate of 30 percent, the 19th highest in the nation.
“It’s important to meet communities where they are. Residents understand community needs and have some of the best ideas how to address them,” said Chan Brown, Kansas Health Foundation program officer. “We believe that all Kansans should be able to make healthy choices where they live, work and play. This initiative is an important step towards that goal.”
The organizations receiving grants will work with residents to identify barriers to better health and create a plan to address them by, among other goals, improving access to quality education, healthy affordable foods and safe places for recreation. In addition to the core funding, each community is eligible to receive up to an additional $100,000 in match funding over the course of the grant term to expand the impact of their work.
“Community members should be given the tools to make decisions and take action based on self-determined needs and priorities. It is essential for positive change. The foundation looks forward to seeing what these communities can accomplish,” said Steve Coen, Kansas Health Foundation president and CEO.
The Kansas Health Foundation is based in Wichita, but statewide in its focus. With a mission to improve the health of all Kansans, KHF envisions a culture in which every Kansan can make healthy choices where they live, work and play. To achieve this, KHF focuses its work to address health equity in four impact areas: access to affordable health care, healthy behaviors, civic and community engagement and educational attainment. During the past 35 years, KHF has provided more than $600 million in grants to improve health in Kansas communities.
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