June newsletter: Leading in times of crisis, budget update, Changemaker Challenge coming soon!
A Note from Nikki: Leading Through Times of Crisis
Earlier this month, former board chair Greg Olanrian and I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a session at the annual Grantmakers in Health (GIH) conference along with executives from the Connecticut Health Foundation about leadership during times of distress. Leading an organization has always been a huge responsibility; then 2020 happened.
From the immense suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and a nationwide reckoning with systemic racism, the past year taught us that we must reimagine how laws and policies should look in the future to ensure that all people can be healthy. We had to figure out how to better engage in collaborative leadership, organizational self-reflection and deepened, authentic relationships with racial justice grantees. We had to reflect on the use of our voices as leaders, engage in conversations with board members to upend traditional philanthropy approaches and offer compassionate support to staff. More than ever, we must all double down on our work with a sense of urgency to respond to the needs of our communities and end the systemic issues that are keeping people from achieving good health and well-being.
Record funding for complete streets and expanding school-based mental health services: an update on Howard County’s FY 2022 budget
Over the past several months, the Horizon Foundation and our partners were hard at work advocating for important public health funding in Howard County’s FY 2022 capital and operating budgets.
In particular, our Streets for All Coalition urged our elected officials to approve funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects to advance complete streets in our community. We were thrilled to see $5.375 million – a record level of funding – in the County budget for new and improved sidewalks, paths, pedestrian crossings and bus stops across Howard County that will make it safer and easier for residents to get around and be physically active.
The County and HCPSS also approved funding to expand the program that makes it easier for students to access mental health services, including one-on-one counseling, during the school day. These enhanced mental health services will soon be available in 50 schools (up from 30) across Howard County!
One of the key lessons our community has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that NOW is the time to invest in a healthier future for all of our citizens across Howard County. Thank you to everyone who raised their voice and supported these investments in our public health.
One of our favorite events is coming back this fall! In partnership with the United Way of Central Maryland, Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County and the Community Foundation of Howard County, we are thrilled to host the Changemaker Challenge, a social impact competition where individuals and organizations pitch their big, innovative ideas to improve our community and compete for grant funding to implement them. Though the event will be held virtually this year, we can’t wait to see the fresh and creative ideas from our community members to solve complex problems and make Howard County a better place for everyone. Applications open July 1!