Forward Community Investments Awards $250,000 in Health Equity Grants


Forward Community Investments (FCI), a community development financial institution that serves as an investor, connector and advisor to many organizations and initiatives, has successfully completed its first round of funding for its Equity Grant Fund in Health 2022, awarding 10 organizations with $25,000 each.

Registered by the Treasury Department as a community loan fund, FCI provides financial support to organizations and initiatives working to reduce social, racial, and economic disparities in Wisconsin communities. While FCI is focused on providing loans to help fund the community projects of these organizations, their work has also enabled them to receive funds that will help provide grants to the same organizations that promote positive change. One such grant includes the 2022 Health Equity Grant Fund, through which the CFI will provide $500,000 in grants to Wisconsin-based organizations that have addressed health equity issues over the course of the last year.

Tom Behnke, manager of grant programs and communications at FCI, explains that with the help of the Otto Bremer Trust (OBT), a family trust working in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, FCI will be able to providing a $25,000 grant to 20 organizations across two funding cycles. In each round, 10 organizations or initiatives will be selected by an external committee that will focus its selection on four project areas: expanding access to affordable housing, early childhood education, workforce training and health services while revitalizing neighborhoods and rural communities.

In addition to project areas and other eligibility criteria, Behnke explains that applying organizations need not be affiliated with a national organization, to better assist small, local organizations in Wisconsin communities.

“We think that an avenue and a way to help some of the city dwellers who are impacted, you know, with the lack of early childhood education or access to affordable housing, is through some of these small organizations that are able to connect those services to those people in a better way than maybe some of the larger organizations,” Behnke says. “It’s kind of a grant that we really like to support small organizations, really crucial small organizations that are doing really good work and maybe don’t have the capacity or the infrastructure in place, like some of the largest national organizations.”

In the first round alone, the 2022 Health Equity Grant Fund received 150 applications from organizations across the state, highlighting the importance and need for financial support among nonprofits. and on a small scale. Of the 150 applicants, 10 organizations and initiatives were selected, including Madison’s Institute for Collective Wellbeing.

Rebecca Paradiso de Sayu, co-creator and co-director of the Institute for Community Wellbeing, explains that the Institute was founded on the idea of ​​how the community can learn and grow together around a common mission of collective well-being, as the organization aims to share stories, ideas, practices, research and frameworks. Through its initiatives focused on health equity and well-being, the Institute continues to create the conditions for people to ask themselves what it takes to be well.

As a recipient of the CFI’s 2022 Health Equity Grant Fund, the Institute will use the grant to fund some of these initiatives, including its Community Wellness Summit to be held on September 15, 2022, which focuses on the field of manpower training project.

“More than 50 million people left their jobs last year and continue to do so. One of the main drivers of this is the toxic work culture,” says Paradiso de Sayu. “So now is really the time for organizations to look at what it takes to create what we call a culture of care. That’s what we intend to explore with this wellness summit. collective.

Health Equity Grant-funded organizations, including the Institute for Collective Wellbeing, will use FCI support to invest in their initiatives that help reduce social, racial, and economic disparities in Wisconsin by placing people and organizations most closer to these problems in the foreground. change. What sets CFI’s grant apart from others is its belief that because there are many grants that limit how its grantees use its funds, the 2022 Health Equity Grant Fund will trust the judgment of each organization in using funds in a way that will help their organization move forward. health equity in their project area.

Paradiso De Sayu underscores the importance of this aspect of community funding, saying, “If we really support fair societies, governments and communities, we have to trust people to know what they need.


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