Community foundations, health care staff and residents link arms to improve lives

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Information about Community foundations, health care staff and residents link arms to...
Health & Medicine

Published on March 11, 2014

Author: CSMottFoundation



The Mid South – Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi – is home to 30 percent of the people living in poverty in the United States. Job losses, bankruptcy and lack of health insurance have helped erode the well being of many communities in the region and crippled their education and health systems.
“These challenges – if left unattended – will continue to grow and deny positive opportunities for today’s families and future generations,” said Ivye L. Allen, president and CEO of the Foundation for the Mid South.
Established more than 20 years ago to bring together public and private sectors and focus their resources on increasing social and economic opportunity, the Foundation for the Mid South is dedicated to “enabling communities to develop solutions to better conditions and improve lives.” Through its grantmaking in four priority areas – education, health and wellness, wealth building and community development – the Jackson, Mississippi-based community foundation also serves as a convener and partner in efforts to build residents’ self-sufficiency.
In 2013, the Foundation for the Mid South joined with seven community foundations from across the country – Amarillo (Texas), Baltimore, Boulder (Colo.), Buffalo (N.Y.), Denver, Fremont (Mich.) and Humboldt (Calif.) – to participate in the Community Leadership Network, which is a year-long intensive project and part of a larger project called the Cultivating Community Engagement Project. Created by CFLeads, a national support organization for community foundations, the network aims to expand and improve the way community foundations involve residents in their work.
The recipient of $5.14 million in grants from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation since 1996, CFLeads (formerly the Coalition of Community Foundations for Youth) has been broadly charged with educating, equipping and inspiring community foundation professionals to adopt strategies and practices that help build vibrant, healthy places to live.
To date, about 300 community foundations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean have participated in CFLeads’ activities, which strengthen organizations through a variety of training and consulting activities including webinars, conference sessions, face-to-face meetings as well as online and print publications.
As a participant in CFLeads’ network, the Foundation for the Mid South has the opportunity to share what it has learned through partnerships with nonprofit organizations working in its service region, including the Daughters of Charities Services of Arkansas, said Deborah A. Ellwood, CFLeads’ executive director. Their partnership has resulted in the development of a rural health-care model that has implications for communities and community foundations across the U.S., she said.
To learn more about the power of philanthropic and nonproft partnerships in developing a creative solution to a serious and urgent community need, watch this short slide show.

At its core, a community foundation is designed to help pool local resources to meet local needs while striving to actively involve residents in determining and prioritizing their community’s needs. Through its Cultivating Community Engagement Project, CFLeads, a national support organization for community foundations, is helping local philanthropies like the Foundation for the Mid South partner effectively with local nonprofits to meet local challenges. Philanthropy begins on Main Street

The Jackson, Miss.-based Foundation for the Mid South has supported a rural health care model developed by the Daughters of Charity Services of Arkansas. Through its participation with the CFLeads exchange, it is sharing this model with community foundations across the country.

The Daughters of Charity provides rural residents with a variety of health services, including exercise programs that encourage healthy lifestyles in a region with one of the nation’s highest rates of diabetes. Statistics show about 1 million people in the Mid South – about 10 percent of the population – have been diagnosed with diabetes, with another 3 million considered pre-diabetic. Health matters

The Daughters of Charity hosts community gardens and a farmer’s market so local residents can grow and buy affordable fresh produce. It is one strategy to promote healthy eating habits overall and especially for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes.

The two clinics – one in Dumas and one in Gould – provide low-cost, high-quality health care services for men, women and children who live in rural communities so they do not have to travel many miles for medical and dental care.

The Foundation for the Mid South has supported expansion of the Daughters of Charity’s diabetes program because diabetes rates are often quite high in rural areas, partially due to limited access to health services and preventative education.

Through its Diabetes Self-Management Education program, clinic staff screen patients and provide education and medical assistance to manage the disease. Patients learn why it is important to monitor blood sugar levels, the difference between good and bad cholesterol, and how to spot problems that, if left untreated, could lead to amputation or death.

The Gould clinic provides dental care for adults and children. Increasingly, studies confirm that oral health is related to the body’s overall health, with evidence showing that gum diseases can increase the risk of heart disease, put pregnant women at a greater risk for premature delivery, and affect blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.

The Cultivating Community Engagement Project is funded by the Charles Stewart Mott and W.K. Kellogg foundations.

All slideshow photographs were taken by Rick Smith of Rochester, Mich., to showcase the work of the Foundation for the Mid South. To learn more about the organization and its work, visit To learn more about Mott, visit

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