2016 news

The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation has announced its first grant-making cycle, which will provide grant funding to non-profit organizations, schools and government departments working in the areas of Healthy Living and Healthy Childhood Development.

The grant opportunities were announced at a Community Gathering in Watertown last week where the foundation board shared its vision for serving as a catalyst for community health. The foundation is offering three grant opportunities with formal applications due in February:

  1. Healthy Choices: Physical Activity, Nutrition and Emotional Wellbeing
  2. Active Living: Creating Healthy Spaces
  3. Healthy Childhood Development

A formal Request for Proposals, complete with application information and deadlines, can be obtained on the Grants page of the foundation's website at www.WatertownHealthFoundation.com.

"We are excited to introduce our inaugural grant cycle which will feature both Spark! Health Grants and Changemaker Health Grants," announced Tina Crave, President and CEO of the foundation. "Spark! Health Grants are designed to spark excitement for health across the region and will provide - through a simplified application process - up to $5,000 per project to support initiatives which promote physical activity, good nutrition, emotional wellbeing or healthy childhood development."

"Changemaker grants will provide up to $100,000 per initiative in support of more comprehensive programming that will produce measurable and sustainable improvements in healthy living behaviors or in healthy childhood development indicators," added Crave.

Funded projects must serve the residents of Dodge and Jefferson Counties with priority given to those impacting the communities served by the following school districts: Hustisford, Ionia, Lake Mills, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Dodgeland, Waterloo and Watertown.

Formed out of the late 2015 joint venture between Watertown Regional Medical Center and LifePoint Health, the foundation is an independent non-profit that will invest in creating health in the community. The mission of the foundation is to inspire collaboration, mobilize resources and encourage innovation that measurably contributes to the wellbeing of our communities. The foundation's budget for its first grant cycle is $450,000.

At the gathering, Board Chairman Michael Sullivan, MD, described the learning, needs identification and strategic planning process the foundation board has completed since its inaugural meeting in January. "We see our foundation's role as a catalyst for community health," said Sullivan. "We will not measure our success by the number of grants that we provide but instead by our ability to work with community partners to measurably "move the needle" on community health status indicators."

Sullivan noted that an annual grant-making cycle will be just one strategy the foundation utilizes to advance community health. "We envision that most of our work will be foundation-directed, meaning that we will serve as a convener to unite multiple community partners in tackling some of our greatest community health opportunities." Sullivan and Crave also noted that the foundation Board's vision includes utilizing its resources to apply for and bring larger national foundation and federal grants into our region.

Through an extensive health assessment process which included review of public health data, an on-line community health survey, focus groups and interviews with more than one hundred community stakeholders, the foundation has identified focus areas of Healthy Living and Healthy Childhood Development. In both of these areas, the foundation seeks to invest in prevention and in addressing "root causes" to advance community health over the long term.

"One of the early learnings we had as a new health foundation board was of the need to focus our efforts, to invest deeply enough in a limited number of areas so that we can effectively "move the needle," explained Sullivan. "Healthy Living and Healthy Childhood Development quickly rose as initial priorities."

In the area of Healthy Living, the foundation seeks to support schools, childcare providers, communities and organizations in creating environments that promote healthy choices. "In today's modernized and fast-paced environment, the healthy choice is not typically the most convenient choice," said Crave. Healthy Choices grants will create environments that make physical activity, nutritious eating and emotional wellbeing strategies part of the daily routine.

The foundation looks to support Healthy Choice initiatives including farm markets for the underserved, educational gardens, healthy additions at snack bars and programs such as "yoga in the park" that get people out and connected through physical activity. In educational settings, the foundation would like to support teachers in incorporating physical activity before, during or after the school day. "We hope to support many educators in getting children active, in enjoying more fresh fruits and vegetables and in incorporating research-backed efforts to promote student emotional wellbeing, such as mindfulness and bullying prevention.

The foundation's Creating Healthy Spaces grants will support communities in enhancing trails, paths and street environments to encourage safe active transportation such as walking and biking.

In the area of healthy childhood development, GWCHF's investment strategy is based on research that shows the foundation for lifelong health is laid in the earliest years of a child's life. Crave explained, "Ninety percent of brain development occurs during the first three years of life. We know that children who enjoy warm, responsive interactions with caregivers and who receive high quality early education enjoy better lifelong health."

"Unfortunately too many children miss out on early developmental opportunities," said Crave, highlighting research demonstrating that children from lower income families are exposed to 30 million fewer words by age three as compared to peers from higher income families. When optimal learning opportunities are limited in early childhood, children start kindergarten behind their peers, and research shows that they rarely "catch up". "Our goal is to ensure that every child in our community, especially those most at-risk, has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential in health, in school and in life."

GWCHF Healthy Childhood Development grants will aid organizations in providing parenting support, high quality early education and access to dental and mental healthcare. Recognizing the impact of toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences, foundation grants will provide support for prevention of adverse experiences and for trauma-informed care initiatives.

Crave noted that there is significant evidence on "what works" to create health. She encourages potential applicants to review the What Works For Health database, developed by the UW School of Medicine and Population Health, by visiting www.countyhealthrankings.org/roadmaps/what-works-for-health.

Prospective applicants are also invited to attend one of two upcoming Grant Workshops hosted by the foundation at its office at 600 East Main Street, suite 200 in Watertown. These workshops will be held Tuesday, December 20th from 8:00 to 9:00 A.M. or on Wednesday, January 4th from 1:00 P.M. to 2:00 P.M. Please RSVP on the Events page of the foundation's website at www.WatertownHealthFoundation.com.

The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation announced its inaugural grant cycle at a breakfast event on Tuesday morning.

The foundation was formed with the purpose of promoting and enhancing the health and wellness of the community and was created out of the September 2015 joint venture transaction between Watertown Regional Medical Center and LifePoint Health, which now owns the hospital.

The hospital was built with community support over the last century.

"The hospital was previously a not for profit organization, it was a community asset. The community owned the hospital and the board of directors of the hospital are the ones who helped negotiate the arrangement to transition the hospital to our current owner LifePoint, which is a for-profit," said Dr. Michael Sullivan, foundation chairman. "When you do a deal like that you have to take all the assets that are tangible assets and liquidate them so we had to sell off all our investments, sell the hospital building itself and when that was all said and done and the purchase price was negotiated on we were left with about $55 million."

The money will be used to run the foundation and pay for grants of about $1.5 to $2 million per year.

"It's the community's money," Sullivan said. The money has limited uses and most common use of the funds is to start a community health foundation.

"We see it as the evolution of the hospital. You may remember the old hospital over on Concord and Main streets. Then we transitioned to the new hospital and now we are transitioning to the next phase with what we are doing with the community health foundation."

The organization still has a 20 percent vested ownership of the hospital.

"We felt it was important that we still had a connection to the hospital, but we are not a hospital based foundation."

That means they won't fund expansion or renovation projects for the hospital like other area hospital foundations do.

The foundation serves most of Dodge and Jefferson counties. At the breakfast Tuesday area stakeholders who may be interested in applying for grants with the foundation listened to the areas the foundation board and Foundation CEO Tina Crave have decided to focus on for the first grant cycle.

The grant opportunities include funding in three areas: healthy choices such as physical activity, nutrition and emotional well-being; active living and creating healthy spaces and healthy childhood development.

"We all have visions for what we want this community and the surrounding communities to be like," Sullivan said.

"Positive change can begin with one small spark. It only takes one person to think things could change or see things in a better way and that can lead to someone next to you getting motivated."

Sullivan encourages organizations to keep applying for grants even if they are not granted by the foundation at first. He also said he hopes the foundation can partner with organizations who they can give money to so it can get other grant funds.

"Many grants given on a national level require a little bit of seed money," Sullivan said. "We are not going to judge our success by the number of grants we give but by our ability to measurably and sustainable move the needle in our community. We can measure success on kindergarten readiness and graduation rates and that's what we hope to do to see some of those changes."

"This is a perpetual endowment that will grow over time," Sullivan said. "We have to be smart to allocate our resources."

"We encourage you to dream big with us and highlight some of the opportunities we are putting at the top of our priority list. We are excited to share the vision that will launch our work. We humbly recognized that social change is difficult and complex."

Crave discussed a community survey which was done over the summer regarding health in the area.

"What are the greatest challenges to your personal health? The answers are what I expected. 'I don't exercise enough. I can't find time to eat right and stress.'"

The next question in the survey asked what people thought the biggest challenges to health are in the community. The answers given ranged from drug abuse, people taking responsibility for their own health, poverty, mental health and alcohol abuse.

"As a foundation we took this list of priorities and said we need to help people get moving more, make it convenient to eat healthy food and we need to address mental health and substance abuse," Crave said. "We want to be providing a solution upstream. We don't want to provide treatment because we probably don't have enough money to provide treatment for all of us. Let's make some investments so our community is a better place in five, 10 or 20 years."

Crave said education and income are indicators of how healthy a person is.

"The life expectancy of someone who is a high school drop out is a decade less than someone with a college degree," she said. "We as a foundation thought if we do nothing but have more kids graduate from high school we are probably going to improve the health of our community."

She acknowledged that helping people change their lifestyle isn't easy.

The foundation will be funding two types of grants. The first is called Spark! Health Grants of up to $5,000 for work to be completed within 12 months, which are designed to spark excitement for health transformation in the community. The application process is simplified for the grant and it has minimal requirements. The second grant type the foundation is accepting is called a Changemaker Health Grant from $5,000 to $100,000 with work to be completed in 12 to 18 months. The grant provides substantial funding for programs that produce measurable improvements in healthy living or in healthy childhood development. Proposals for the grant must have defined methods for measuring outcomes.

The foundation will fund nonprofit organizations and government units including schools.

There will be an informational grants workshop on Dec. 20 at 8 a.m. and Jan. 4, 2017, at 1 p.m. The workshop is required for those who plan to apply for a Changemaker Health Grant and is encouraged for those applying for the Spark! Health Grants.

Those interested in learning more about grant opportunities with the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation can contact the foundation at 920-390-4000 or go to watertownhealthfoundation.com.

The founding board of the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF) is taking important steps in defining its role as a catalyst for community health transformation. The foundation, which will hold itself accountable to produce measurable improvements in community heath, will be offering its first grant cycle in the first half of 2017.

"To make a significant and sustainable difference in the health of our region, we plan to invest deeply in a few select areas of focus," Tina Crave, foundation President and CEO explained.

According to Crave, the board has reviewed local health assessment data and is collaborating with key stakeholders in the region to further identify needs and community assets.

"We are impressed by the enthusiasm, leadership and expertise we are finding when it comes to health initiatives in our region. There is a lot of momentum that already exists and we plan to build upon that momentum as we move forward with community partners to advance health and wellbeing," Crave said.

At its May strategic planning retreat, the foundation board focused discussions on healthy living and early childhood development, two potential priority areas for the foundation.

According to Dr. Mike Sullivan, GWCHF Board Chairman, "Chronic disease and mental health have consistently been our region's greatest health challenges. We are educating ourselves on prevention strategies such as creating environments where good nutrition and physical activity options are widely available."

Board members also examined the impact that root cause investments in early childhood development have on lifelong health.

"A great deal of research in recent years has shown that the foundation for lifelong health is laid in the first years of life," explained Crave. "The prenatal through preschool years are a critical development window, and we are interested in learning how the foundation can ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to lead a healthy and successful life."

"Our vision is to create thriving communities where everyone enjoys good health and wellbeing," Crave continued. "Our foundation board is eager to tackle some of region's greatest health challenges, and we want to raise the bar in terms of what is possible for our communities."

The slate of officers for the new foundation includes Dr. Steven LeGrow, Vice Chairman. LeGrow is also a primary care physician with Watertown Family Practice and is the Vice Chief of Staff at WRMC. Registered Nurse Carol Quest, Watertown Health Officer, serves as Secretary. Randy Phelps of Watertown serves as Treasurer.

Other inaugural board members include Watertown Mayor John David, Charles Eggert, owner of Eggert Law LLP, Waterloo; Dr. Fred Gremmels, retired physician; Karla Mullen, retired educator; Bill Oswald, owner, Oswald Konz Financial Group; Nate Salas, president, Partnership Bank; David Schroeder, president, Baker-Rullman; Tim Schuler, controller, Orbis Corporation; and Marcy Tessmann, president, Charleston|Orwig.

Additional GWCHF committee members include Chad Bailey, Trek Bicycle; Patrick Caine, BMO Harris Bank; John Graf, WRMC; Dr. Ed Hoy, retired physician; John Kosanovich, retired WRMC President; and Jerry Vomhof, Thrivent Financial.

The GWCHF was created from the joint-venture transaction between Watertown Regional Medical Center and LifePoint Health. GWCHF is an independent non-profit foundation whose mission is "to inspire collaboration, mobilize resources and encourage innovation that measurably contributes to the wellbeing of our communities". It is governed by a volunteer board of directors and serves the communities of Watertown, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Jefferson, Waterloo, Juneau, Hustisford and Ixonia.

The foundation is located at 600 E. Main St., Ste 200, Watertown, in the upper level of Associated Bank.

The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF) appoints its inaugural board of directors and announces the hiring of Tina Crave as President and CEO. With the purpose of promoting and enhancing the health of the greater Watertown community, the new foundation was formed as a result of the September, 2015, joint venture transaction between Watertown Regional Medical Center (WRMC) and LifePoint Health.

"Over the last century, the value of WRMC was built, in part, from the community's support of WRMC," said Mike Sullivan, MD, GWCHF Board Chairman. "Our Foundation will carry on this legacy by providing resources-for the next 100 years and beyond-to transform the health of our community."

Sullivan is a family practice physician with Watertown Family Practice and a WRMC medical staff member. "I'm thrilled for this opportunity to help lead the GWCHF. Ideal health and vitality are not created in the clinic or at the hospital. They are created through healthy environments in homes, schools, workplaces and communities. The GWCHF will infuse needed resources and programming to transform community health."

Tina Crave is the foundation President and CEO. Crave most recently served as Vice President and Chief Experience Officer at WRMC, where she had responsibilities over patient experience, marketing/public relations and community health assessment and planning. Crave holds a B.S. in physical therapy from UW-La Crosse and a Masters in Business Administration from Cardinal Stritch University. She holds certifications in health coaching and whole health education.

"We are very fortunate to have these new resources in our community dedicated to community health," said Crave. "The GWCHF board and I are excited for the opportunities and are looking forward to developing partnerships and collaborating with organizations that are already advancing health across the region."

Crave noted the board will be taking up to 18 to 24 months (recommended by foundation industry experts) to assess needs, identify priorities and to develop a strategic plan before awarding any grants. "We take our obligation to focus our resources on making significant impacts and will exercise due diligence in developing a plan to target our region's greatest health challenges."

Crave adds that recent health needs assessments show chronic disease, physical activity, nutrition and mental health to be the most significant health challenges across the region.

The GWCHF is an independent non-profit foundation governed by a volunteer board of directors that represents the diverse needs of the greater Watertown region. While not affiliated with WRMC, the foundation will serve the communities that have been traditionally served by WRMC, including Watertown, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Jefferson, Waterloo, Juneau and Ixonia.

With an investment portfolio valued at approximately $50 million, the GWCHF will utilize annual interest earnings for grants and programming throughout the region. In addition to its role as a grant maker, the GWCHF also holds the community's remaining 20% interest in WRMC. In this role, the GWCHF appoints 50% of the board members to the WRMC Joint Venture Board and is responsible for ensuring that all joint venture covenants are maintained.

The slate of officers for the new foundation includes Steven LeGrow, MD, as Vice Chair. LeGrow is also a primary care physician with Watertown Family Practice and is the Vice Chief of Staff at WRMC. Carol Quest, RN, Watertown Health Officer, serves as Secretary. Randy Phelps of Watertown serves as Treasurer.

Other inaugural board members include:
John David, Mayor, City of Watertown
Charles Eggert, Owner, Eggert Law LLP, Waterloo
Fred Gremmels, MD, retired physician
Karla Mullen, retired educator
Bill Oswald, Owner, Oswald Konz Financial Group
Nate Salas, President, Partnership Bank
David Schroeder, President, Baker-Rullman
Tim Schuler, Controller, Orbis Corporation
Marcy Tessmann, President, Charleston|Orwig

Additional GWCHF committee members include Chad Bailey, Trek Bicycle; Patrick Caine, BMO Harris Bank; John Graf, WRMC: Ed Hoy, MD, retired physician and Jerry Vomhof, Thrivent Financial.