The Horizon Foundation gave out over $1 million in grants in 2012 to numerous local organizations working on public health initiatives in Howard County, Maryland.
“Our mission is to improve the health and wellness of people living and working in Howard County,” said Foundation President and CEO Nicolette (Nikki) Highsmith Vernick. “And fulfilling this mission requires strong partnerships with our many grantees.”
The Foundation’s grants this year totaled $1,064,266 to over fifteen organizations serving Howard County. Notable grants include:
- $87,266 to FIRN in support of programs to address obesity among children and adults in the county’s growing Latino community
- $125,000 to the Howard County Public School System to support its student health and fitness assessment for 4th through 9th graders.
- Over $150,000 combined to Howard County General Hospital, Healthy Howard, and Chase Brexton Health Services to implement real-time, video language interpretation to improve the provision of care to non-English speaking community members.
- $40,000 to support the Columbia Foundation’s “Let’s Get S.A.S.S.Y” initiative and develop curriculum for teaching children about making healthy choices in 20 after school care sites, impacting 1,300 children in the county.
Additional organizations receiving grants from the Foundation include the Domestic Violence Center serving Howard County, Grassroots, and the Association of Community Services and others.
Building on 14 years of grantmaking and partnerships, the Foundation’s grants from last year reflect a new philosophy, one being implemented after several years of exploration and assessment by the organization’s leadership. This philosophy is embedded in the Foundation’s new strategic plan, which lays out specific goals and impact measures for achieving its mission.
“In developing the new strategic plan, we extensively investigated opportunities where the Foundation could have the biggest impact on improving public health in the long term,” said Highsmith Vernick. “As a result of this process, we realized that there were two critical areas of need: promoting healthy lifestyles and increasing access to quality health care for all community members.”
The facts underlying these priorities are stark: Over half of all deaths in Howard County are caused by heart disease, stroke, and cancer, and obesity is a risk factor in each. Additionally, over 50 percent of adults in Howard County are overweight or obese and more than one-quarter of children are, as well.
Access to health care is also a concern. More than 10 percent of adults and six percent of children in Howard County residents are uninsured, and many more are under-insured and unable to obtain quality, affordable health care.
“We couldn’t ignore the what the statistics were saying,” Highsmith Vernick said. “Our vision is that people in Howard County will live long, healthy lives, and in order to make that vision a reality, we must address these areas through our grantmaking and other initiatives.”
The Foundation is working with grantees to develop innovative programs and solutions to these issues. And as part of its strategic plan, it has developed impact measures and benchmarks to ensure its programs and grantmaking are making progress towards their goals.
“We need to be accountable to the community and show that we’re moving the needle on public health in Howard County,” said Highsmith Vernick. “We have a responsibility to ourselves and the community to make sustainable and lasting contributions to the health and wellness of Howard County, and this strategic plan ensures that our investments will accomplish just that.”