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HealthSpark Foundation Awards $320,000 in Support of Racial Equity and Social Sector Innovation

HealthSpark Foundation is pleased to announce its latest round of grant awards that further support our mission to build a more just and financially resilient social safety net in Montgomery County. The grant awards include $150,000 in support for the county’s first ever collaborative community learning space on racial equity in the nonprofit sector, as well as $170,000 for 7 grants awarded under the Innovation Lab spring round that test proof-of-concept ideas to create innovation, efficiency, and accessibility within the social safety net.

“This summer’s grant awards are unique opportunities for system transformation within the social safety net,” shares Foundation President and CEO Russell Johnson. “The pandemic has shifted attitudes and thinking around the financial resiliency of the system and has spurred our Innovation Lab grantee partners to address issues including accessibility to services and efficiencies and coordination between service providers.”

The Innovation Lab provides grant funding to support planning, research, proof-of-concept projects, and related activities for nonprofit partners to test new ideas that will build a more just and financially resilient social safety net. The grant program is designed to fill the lack of “research and development” funding available for social sector agencies to test out new, risky, or fledgling ideas, which traditional government and philanthropic resources typically don’t support. Past grantees have highlighted the Innovation Lab’s ability to spur new partnerships, allow space for trust-building between new organizations, and hold organizations accountable for efforts to advance greater equity within the safety net. Now in its fourth round, the Innovation Lab has supported 36 projects at $974,370 in funding. A full listing of the current Innovation Lab grant awards is below.

In addition to the Innovation Lab grant projects, HealthSpark has also continued its investment into the Racial Equity Learning Community that is being designed and managed by the three county collaboratives through a transformative, partnership-driven approach to systems change. Bucks-Mont Collaborative, Tri-County Community Network, and Interagency Council of Norristown have been leading the development of the learning community for their nonprofit memberships since fall of 2020. HealthSpark’s prior grant funds had supported the creation of an Advisory Council to guide their work and the hiring of a nationally renown consultant specializing in racial equity and social justice system transformations to lead listening sessions and other planning efforts to design a three-year curriculum to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice within the social safety net.

In this next phase, the Racial Equity Learning Community will now implement its multi-faceted training curriculum that centers personal, organizational, and system learning and action. Organizations may apply to participate in the program, at no cost to their organization. HealthSpark’s funding of $150,000 over two years will support the continued administration, management, and training costs of the curriculum. Click here for more information on the Racial Equity Learning Community.

Innovation Lab Round 4 Grantees

Access Services and The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth, $30,000. “A Community-Wide, Integrated System of Support for Families Experiencing or At-Risk of Homelessness.”

This proof of concept project will develop a community-wide, integrated system of support for families experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. It will equip safety net providers with the tools and training to work alongside with families and to help them secure stability and better futures.

Centro de Cultura Arte Trabajo y Educacion (CCATE), Curamericas Global, and Villanova University, $30,000. “Norristown Latinx Community Health Census.”

CCATE’s Health Circle, through a partnership with Curamericas Global, is collecting data through a community health census on the health needs and concerns of Latinx immigrant families in Norristown, PA. Based on the data they collect, they will develop both short and long-term health projects, as well as programs and events, to foster change and awareness around these issues.

The Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre and Women’s Center of Montgomery County, $30,000. “Accommodation Investigation & Facilitation Project.”

This project seeks to bring data backed conclusions to the question of accessibility and inclusion in the Montgomery County Safety Net. Qualitative research through focus groups will be conducted to identify the impediments which limit access to the safety net.  Once those obstacles are identified and understood, the data collected will be synthesized into an actionable plan to address the issue. This project builds on a planning grant awarded to the partner organizations in the previous grant round.

Imagine Different, Achieve Different Coalition, c/o the Peal Center, the ARC Alliance, the Child Advocate Unit of the Montgomery County Public Defender, and Vision for Equality. $5,000. “Sharing/Caring Partner Families for Children with Developmental Disabilities in Montgomery County – Planning.”

This is a planning grant to develop the project of Partner Families in Montgomery County. The partners will establish a working relationship with local families and public and private organizations in order to research and develop the concept of Partner Families. Ultimately, the project seeks to reduce and prevent facility placement of children with complex developmental disabilities while, most importantly, honoring their developmental need to grow up in family life.

National Network for Youth, Montgomery County Youth Action Board, and Your Way Home. $30,000. “Conducting a Landscape Scan to Determine Readiness for a Youth-Led Community Collaborative.”

Grounded in research and a racial justice framework, National Network for Youth aims to build a youth-centered safety net system for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County. The focus of this pilot project is to conduct a landscape scan to assess the community's readiness to pursue a long-term, youth-led collaborative approach to system change. Additional partners include Access Services, Valley Youth House, and RJ Leonard Foundation.

Norristown Ministries Inc. and District Judge Gregory Scott, $15,000. “Homeless Court Program – Planning.”

This a planning grant to develop the idea of a Homeless Court Program in Montgomery County. A Homeless Court Program helps homeless individuals or those at risk for homelessness to resolve the legal barriers that are just one of the many challenges they face on the road to self-sufficiency.

Temple University and the Montgomery County Racial Justice Improvement (RJIP) Task Force, $30,000. “RJIP, Police & University Partnership to Increase Racial Justice for Youth.”

The RJIP, Police & University Partnership to Increase Racial Justice for Youth seeks to bridge the gap between justice and the social safety net in Montgomery County through a proof-of-concept design. The goal of the project is to better understand why arrest rates in Montgomery County are disproportionately higher for black youth than other races and to create an action plan to address this disparity.