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Foundation Aims to Improve Health, Not Just Health Care

The Episcopal Health Foundation will focus grants and other programs on early brain development of children during pregnancy and in the first three years of life. Photo: Tardif/GettyImages

by Mark Richardson

HOUSTON – The Episcopal Health Foundation is shifting its focus to a five-year “big picture” plan that targets specific outcomes needed to address the root causes of poor health in Texas.

The Foundation, which serves about 11 million people in a 57-county region of southeast Texas, aims to level the playing field to give Texans with the fewest resources an equal chance at achieving good health.

Brian Sasser, the director of communications for the Foundation, says it is changing the way it achieves its goals.

“The primary theme of that plan is improving health, not just health care,” he says. “And that means doing things within the health system, within communities, within early-childhood brain development. They really focus on the things outside of the doctor’s office that can improve health in Texas.”

Sasser says the plan has three goals: to open up and strengthen health-care systems to address the underlying causes of poor health, to strengthen groups and congregations into health-promoting communities, and to invest in early child-brain development during pregnancy and the first three years of life. He says the programs are aimed at helping low-income and vulnerable Texans.

Sasser says the foundation plans to achieve its goals by investing in care providers and other community-based organizations.

“Primarily with our nonprofits and other groups who receive grants from us, they will use this plan to develop ideas for grant proposals and each grant proposal will go through a certain goal or strategy that we have in our plan,” he explains.

He says the foundation also pursues its goals through other parts of its mission.

“In addition, we do a lot of things outside of grants,” he adds. “We do research, we work with churches, do community engagement projects, and so the focus goes beyond just grant-making but on outcomes and on improving health, not just healthcare, goes into everything we do at the foundation.”

The Episcopal Health Foundation was created in 2013 by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. The five-year strategic plan will go into effect in 2018.

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