The St. David’s Foundation of Austin has provided more than $28 million in grant funding for 48 Central Texas organizations centered on addressing affordability and housing, increased access to health services and enhanced economic and education resources. A total of 62 grants were awarded between January and August, officials said in a news release Monday.
Regan Gruber Moffitt, vice president of community investments with the St. David’s Foundation, told KXAN Tuesday she’s excited about the work grantees are doing to address inequities today and to help build healthier and more prosperous communities in the future.
“I think what we’re most excited about is that there are current needs of individuals within our community that our facing barriers to living their optimal health. And so many of our grantees are providing direct services that help individuals today,” she said.
The St. David’s Foundation outlines five central tenants of their mission: Resilient children, Healthy women and girls, older adults age in place, thriving rural communities, clinics as community hubs for health
She said her hope is that the foundation’s funding can help address root causes for inequities across geographic regions, racial, ethnic, age and gender groups to best determine a course of action down the road.
“We really do believe that it’s so critical to both provide for the needs of today, but also look toward what is going to eliminate some of these barriers long term,” she said. “And so having grantees and partners who understand that and are doing the work day to day, really, is what will change our community.”
The foundation submits invitations to community organizations they collaborate with to apply for their grants. From there, the main criteria they focus on is the level of impact a particular project can have.
“Obviously, it’s really important to us, the number of people that will be served,” she said. “But we’re also really looking at how much long-term impact can this have? Can this change the conversation about health equity in our community, and ultimately can it change systems within our community.”
Walter Moreau, executive director of Austin-based Foundation Communities, said the nearly $5.9 million in funding they’ve received through the foundation will be invested in health programs and an affordable housing development currently in the works.
Foundation Communities offers everything from food pantries and mental health resource access to community fitness classes. In addition, the organization is constructing the Parker Lane Apartments, an affordable housing development that will factor in a learning center, health clinic, food pantry and other family-centered resources.
“We don’t want to just provide a cheap apartment,” Moreau said. “We want to provide a great community where people are proud of where they live and have opportunities right at their doorstep.”
Texas 2036, a nonprofit centered on data-driven policy work, received a $50,000 grant to analyze and develop an in-depth map studying uninsured Texans statewide. Charles Miller, the nonprofit’s senior policy adviser, said approximately five million Texans are classified as uninsured.
The organization’s project, “Who are the uninsured?” will evaluate why some eligible residents remain uninsured and possible barriers of access preventing them from becoming insured. Through data analyses and conversations with uninsured Texans, they will then develop potential policies to present for consideration in future legislative sessions.
Austin Community Foundation, a 45-year-old Central Texas organization, is focused on narrowing the opportunity gap across Central Texas via affordable housing and economic security initiatives.
“We know that talent is distributed evenly across the region, but opportunity sure isn’t,” said Mike Nellis, ACF’s CEO. “Our goal is to help support organizations that focus on providing everyone in this community with economic security.”
This core focus has become all the more critical, given the affordability crisis plaguing Central Texas communities. Nellis added that providing affordable housing isn’t just critical at the individual level, but it’s a necessary priority for companies moving into the region and needing a strong, localized workforce to support their business.
ACF received $1.2 million in grant funds, which will be used to accelerate affordable housing efforts. In July, ACF announced it was partnering with Habitat for Humanity on constructing 150 permanently affordable homes, with this funding being used as part of that investment.
“We believe that we need all kinds of housing in all kinds of places in this region,” he said. “And what the St. David’s Foundation investment does is allow us to work with nonprofit developers all across Central Texas to speed up the production of affordable housing, which we so desperately need.”