Behavioral health counseling. Suicide prevention and intervention training. Youth mentoring. Substance abuse prevention and mental health first aid education. Medical expense support. Youth advocacy.
If you asked members of the communities in Routt and Moffatt counties in Colorado, or really anywhere across the country, if these topics were important, you would likely hear a resounding “yes.”
Important, yes. Costly to provide? An even stronger yes.
Thanks to UCHealth, additional funds are available to support and address these critical needs and others.
As part of the partnership established between UCHealth and Yampa Valley Medical Center (YVMC) in 2017, the Steamboat Springs community and YVMC benefitted from investments of more than $105 million from UCHealth, including a $20 million contribution to Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation (YVMCF).
The Community Health Benefit Fund (CHBF), the name given to the funds YVMCF received from UCHealth, was established in 2019 and split equally between two purposes:
“Thanks to the generosity of UCHealth and the work of YVMC’s local leaders and trustees, there are now significant grant dollars available for health-focused nonprofits in our communities,” said Soniya Fidler, president of YVMC. “By working together and supporting select nonprofits with grant funds, we have the opportunity to improve lives in a much greater way.”
Since the inaugural year in 2020, more than 40 grants have been awarded, totaling $940,000.
Lindsay Kohler, executive director at Partners in Routt County, anticipates approximately 150 youth in Routt and Moffat counties will be supported by programing funded by their CHBF grant, with another 150 youth being reached through safe and sober events planned by Youth Action Councils. Additionally, 50 to 100 adults in Routt and Moffat counties will be impacted through their Strengthening Families Program and via Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings.
Nonprofits in Routt and Moffat counties that have received at least one grant from the Community Health Benefit Fund
“After hearing presentations on the prevalence of fentanyl in our communities, the Steamboat Springs Youth Action Council decided to take action,” said Kohler. “After receiving training, they’re now working to train Steamboat Springs School District staff on the signs of an overdose and how to administer naloxone.”
LiftUp Routt County has a health care and prescription fund that allows LiftUp to provide financial assistance to Routt County residents who need help paying for medical, dental or prescription needs.
“Receiving a Community Health Benefit Fund grant is critical to our ability to meet the financial needs of our neighbors who are unable to afford a needed medical or dental treatment, dental procedure or even transportation to a medical appointment,” said Sue Fegelein, executive director of LiftUp Routt County. “These funds directly serve our neighbors in their time of need.”
Dana Duran, executive director of Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Colorado, and the BGC staff work tirelessly to help young people develop skills and tools to increase resiliency, self-esteem, coping and decision-making skills while decreasing substance abuse now and into the future.
“Our clubs have been able to implement SMART moves programming, thanks to the grant from the Community Health Benefit Fund,” said Duran. “It is designed to assist young people as they gain skills to delay experimentation, increase refusal skills and develop healthy decision-making skills.”
Thanks to the decision made by the CHBF task force to treat the annual grant funds as a quasi-endowment, funding will be available to support the community and its population health initiatives in perpetuity.
To qualify for the annual grant funds, organizations have to be an existing 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, located within Routt and/or Moffat counties and align to the funding priorities as outlined in YVMC’s most recent Community Health Needs Assessment. Since the inception of the CHBF, the funding priorities have been to provide access to health care, mental health and substance use disorder.
The special initiatives funds are earmarked for larger projects that have the opportunity to effect lasting change in the communities served by YVMC.
The grant cycle will open again on Jan. 1, 2023, with up to $300,000 in grants available to nonprofits focused.
“When grants are awarded in 2023, we will have contributed over $1 million to nonprofits working to improve access to health care, mental health and substance use disorder,” said Karen Schneider, executive director of YVMCF. “This really is the tip of the iceberg. The impact these funds can have in our local communities is monumental.”
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