FROM THE CHAIR & CEO

THE REACH FOUNDATION CELEBRATED ITS 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY IN 2013 –
GIVING US THE OPPORTUNITY TO REFLECT ON THE FIRST DECADE AND ASK: “WHAT’S NEXT?”

In our work, most of us are programmed to focus on the tasks ahead with hardly a backward glance at the decisions and progress points behind us. For this reason, we appreciate the annual report because it forces us to reflect on the projects and partnerships that defined the previous year’s work and laid the groundwork for the current year. 2013 holds particular meaning for us because it marked a milestone for the REACH Healthcare Foundation – our 10-year anniversary.

The REACH Foundation was established in 2003 as a result of the sale of Health Midwest, a nonprofit hospital and health care system. The original, 27-member board of directors was selected by several governmental appointing authorities. Their first charge was to establish a vision, mission and strategic priorities for the new foundation within the broad parameters of “community health and well-being.” That founding board of directors, with its strong opinion leaders and diverse perspectives, identified a purpose and three funding priorities – access to oral health, mental health and safety net health care – that have remained vital and relevant for our organization still today.

So much has changed in the health care environment regionally and nationally over the 10 years since this foundation’s formation. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed into law and turned three in 2013. Despite continuing controversies about its aim and scope, the law began to assume new meaning for consumers during the year as its provisions came more fully into play. The web-based health insurance marketplace launched in October 2013 – albeit with a lot of difficulties. Despite the start-up challenges, safety net health care clinics, community health coalitions and other organizations that REACH supports embraced the opportunity and worked intensely to educate consumers about their health coverage options and assist them with enrollment during the short timeframe. To enable consumers to take advantage of this new coverage opportunity, the foundation awarded $194,809 to six organizations to support navigation and outreach efforts in underserved urban and rural areas.

REACH also funded health advocacy organizations to help advance Medicaid reform, expand the oral health workforce in Kansas, and educate the public and lawmakers about the impact of state fiscal policies on health and human services.

Changes in health policy and health care systems require sustained effort and investment. While we didn’t accomplish all of the goals we set for ourselves in those arenas, we still count successes from our investments:

  • Coordinated advocacy efforts. Advocates and health providers in Kansas and Missouri worked together to take advantage of the health insurance enrollment opportunity, and to push Medicaid expansion to the forefront of policy discussions;
  • Re-establishment of Missouri Dental Director. The Missouri Foundation for Health, the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and the REACH Foundation provided funding for this key state position that had been vacant for several years;
  • Focus on service integration. As the REACH Medical Home Initiative entered a new phase of development, safety net clinics turned their attention to integration of mental health and oral health services with primary care;
  • HIT connectivity. The Mid-America Regional Council and a consulting team worked with safety net clinics, community mental health centers and hospitals to develop a blueprint for an interstate safety net health information exchange that will be launched in 2014.

In 2013, the foundation made its largest single investment in our Rural Health Initiative (RHI), allocating $465,000 for grants and technical assistance to help local leaders in Allen County, Kansas, and Cass and Lafayette counties in Missouri begin to implement health improvement initiatives in their counties. In 2012, the foundation invited community leaders from the three counties to “think big” about strategies for increasing health care access in their counties. In 2013, those local leaders began to roll out start-up projects, such as the re-opening of a health clinic in Waverly, Missouri, and the introduction of a Circles Program in Iola, Kansas, focused on providing mentoring and other support to help people move out of poverty.

As we wrapped up our year, the foundation held a series of meetings with grantees to begin to define appropriate outcomes for our primary care, mental health care and oral health care investments, and to select indicators for evaluating progress. Those convenings will continue into 2014, ultimately resulting in a framework we will use to monitor progress. We believe these kinds of conversations and collaborations are critical to long-term success.

The Board of Directors and staff look forward to the next decade of REACH with a sense of excitement and curiosity about this foundation’s future work. The Board and staff will begin a planning process in 2014 that will inform our strategic priorities for the next five years. We do not know how our priorities will evolve, but commit to be open and transparent with grantees about our thinking, and to draw on their ideas and expertise as we set our course.

We invite you to read about our funding priorities and the organizations in which we invested in 2013. As always, please continue to share your thoughts and ideas with us.

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GRANTS AWARDED IN 2013
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ORGANIZATIONS FUNDED
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TOTAL AWARDED IN 2013
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TOTAL AWARDED SINCE 2005

William L. Bruning

Board Chair

Brenda R. Sharpe

President & CEO

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