The Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its $60 million, multi-phase initiative: Giving Resources to Our World (GROW).
GROW launched in 1999 and was created to help community foundations across Kansas build philanthropic assets in an effort to keep local Kansas dollars local. Funding allowed community foundations to establish matching challenges and to grow assets, create special health and wellness funds and become trained in philanthropic leadership. The initiative helped create a self-sufficient foundation field in Kansas supporting collaboration and idea sharing, as well as preparing foundations for the complexities and challenges awaiting them in the future.
“Twenty years ago, we understood how deeply Kansans cared about their hometowns, and we knew that if we built an infrastructure for people to give back to their communities, they would,” said Steve Coen, KHF president and CEO. “GROW created local philanthropic leadership and resources that have made the state of Kansas a better, healthier, more prosperous state.”
GROW funding has helped Kansas community foundations build walking trails and bike racks to promote healthy living, supported classroom projects to help students succeed, installed playground equipment to improve children’s health and created better access to health care resources.
The 12 community foundations involved in GROW 1 during 2000 to 2009, saw their assets grow from $19 million to $95 million – and awarded more than $33 million in grants. During the second phase, 39 participating community foundations saw their assets increase from $236.5 million in 2009 to nearly $700 million in 2018.
“While these numbers themselves are impressive, we know they can never tell the whole story,” Coen said. “It’s really about the lives that have been touched, the communities that have been changed and the tangible results that connect directly with our mission to improve the health of all Kansans.”
Although the GROW initiative is ending, KHF’s support of community foundations will continue. During a recent celebration of GROW, KHF announced the Kansas Community Investment Fund (KCIF).
KCIF is a pilot program to assist Kansas community foundations with impact investing, which will help these communities address critical health issues through small grants and loans.
“We believe this is a logical next step to leverage our investment to advance economic development in local communities, and ultimately to improve the health of all Kansans,” Coen said.
More information will be forthcoming about this exciting new initiative.
Learn more about how each community foundation has benefited from GROW.
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 in four impact areas: access to affordable health care, healthy behaviors, civic and community engagement and educational attainment. During its history, KHF has provided more than $500 million in grants to Kansas communities and organizations, and looks forward to working toward its mission and vision for many years to come.
Every month, our electronic newsletter, Health Happenings, features a story about a focus area, grant, partnership or program involving the Foundation.