July 15, 2020

July 2020 newsletter: Statement on fighting racial injustice, trauma series supporting essential workers and more

Horizon Foundation’s statement on the murder of George Floyd and the fight against racial injustice

As an organization committed to changing policies and systems to improve racial equity, watching the events of the past week has been heartbreaking. We are both saddened and angered by the murder of George Floyd and the countless names that have come before him. Racism is a public health crisis, and we will not tolerate it anywhere it exists – in our community or in our country. The systems in this country that enable and perpetuate racism simply have to change, and we will do our part in the fight to change them. More than ever, we are committed to our vision for ALL people in Howard County to live long, healthy lives. We will continue to advocate for policies and systems that promote equitable health outcomes and the ability for all people to thrive. We stand in solidarity with all of our grantees and our communities of color. We will continue to elevate these voices that are working to call attention to existing disparities and help dismantle an unjust system, and we remain committed to supporting them every step of the way.


Horizon Foundation hosts trauma series focused on supporting essential workers on the frontline of COVID-19

Responding to the mental health needs of communities across Howard County is a key focus for the Horizon Foundation – one that has become only more important as COVID-19 added to stress, fear and grief for so many. On July 8, the Foundation hosted a webinar reaching over 400 people about supporting and providing for a group hit especially hard by those challenges: our front-line workforce, including healthcare workers, first responders, pharmacy and grocery-store staff and other vital employees.

The forum featured three survivors who spoke about their personal experiences of living and moving through trauma, as well as two local clinicians who provided advice on how to process and navigate through traumatic experiences.
Read more about the trauma series and featured speakers>>


Response to COVID-19 featured in Howard Magazine 

To highlight our collective response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Horizon Foundation sponsored a feature in this month’s edition of Howard Magazine that focused on our $1 million emergency grantmaking and HoCoRespond funding efforts with the United Way of Central Maryland, the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County and the Community Foundation of Howard County. Together, these local foundations distributed more than $407,000 in their first month and continue to work together to target grants where they are needed most in the community. The Howard Magazine feature also highlighted the critical work by several grantees to support those in need in Howard County, including Columbia Community Care, Humanim and the Arc of Howard County.
Check out the magazine (pages 18-21)>>


Horizon Foundation and Columbia Festival of the Arts team up for virtual Mental Health Film Festival

As part of its virtual Columbia Film Festival, the Horizon Foundation and Columbia Festival of the Arts hosted free mental health film screenings and interactive conversations. Over 300 people registered for two nights to view five short films covering important topics including PTSD, anxiety, depression and combating stigma. Viewers also had the opportunity to engage in a Q&A with several filmmakers and a live discussion with Rain Pryor, daughter of the late legendary comedian Richard Pryor.
Learn more about the film festival>>



Centennial Medical Group, Columbia Medical Practice and Ascension Medical Group lead the way in bringing advance care planning to primary care practices

Starting in March 2019, the Horizon Foundation sponsored these three organizations to work with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to embed “Conversation Ready” principles into their daily practices and ensure that their patients’ health care wishes can be more comfortably expressed and respected. The three provider groups deployed a number of strategies in order to boost their engagement with patients about planning their advance directive and documenting their wishes.
Read more in our Speak(easy) Howard blog>>


Over $56,000 in new grants awarded to support mental health and wellness in Howard County

In response to the ongoing mental health challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Horizon Foundation recently awarded over $56,000 in new grants to 25 community organizations to launch projects to mitigate the negative effects that social isolation and physical distancing may have on the emotional wellness of residents. The grantees will work to help residents remain connected to one another and maintain a sense of community during this time of physical distancing and digital communication – and thus, help protect against the negative mental effects of our current environment.
Read our announcement>>


County Council restores limited funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects

The Streets for All Coalition – led by the American Heart Association, AARP Maryland and the Horizon Foundation – tirelessly advocated for funding in the county’s FY 2021 capital budget for improved bike and pedestrian infrastructure, including sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, paths and other projects. The County Executive initially proposed over $7.3 million for these projects, but an amendment was introduced to cut more than half of that amount. Ultimately, $3.8 million in new funding was approved for bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects including the publication of a complete streets design manual and improvements for ADA ramps.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for safe and accessible sidewalks, bike lanes, paths and crosswalks as many of us are relying on them now more than ever for physical activity, a mental reprieve from isolation and for essential workers to get to their jobs. The Streets for All Coalition will continue to advocate for these projects to be prioritized by the county government.
Read our statement >>


HCPSS budget protects funding for school-based mental health services

Over the past year, a program jointly funded by the school system and the Horizon Foundation has significantly expanded mental health services in 30 schools. This program, which has already provided personalized help to hundreds of students, makes it easier for students to access services, including one-on-one counseling, during the school day. Over 57 local organizations signed on to our letter urging the Board of Education to protect funding for this program in its operating budget, and hundreds of community members raised their voices in support as well. We are thrilled that the program will be fully funded next year, and we hope that regularly evaluating student outcomes will better position HCPSS to support students now and expand this program into the future.
Learn more>>
Read our joint letter to the Board of Education>>


Welcome to our two newest staff members!

We recently welcomed two new staff members to our Horizon Foundation family: Kenitra Fokwa and Cat Harmon. Kenitra joined the Foundation May 1 as our new Senior Program Officer covering our racial equity initiative and overseeing all grantmaking. Cat joined the Foundation July 1 as our new Director of Communications. We are thrilled to have them both on board!
Read Kenitra’s bio>>
Read Cat’s bio>>


Horizon Foundation receives two local awards

The Horizon Foundation was honored to receive two special recognitions in the past couple of weeks. We were recognized at the United Way of Central Maryland’s annual meeting to highlight our work together through the Changemaker Challenge and HoCoRespond and celebrate our continued partnership. Additionally, our president and CEO Nikki Highsmith Vernick was named as one of the Maryland Daily Record’s COVID-19 Heroes as part of its Health Care Heroes Awards for the Foundation’s work to support our Howard County nonprofits and essential workers on the frontline of this crisis. We are proud to be a part of a wonderful group of organizations, funders and individuals committed to serving our community.