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REACH Foundation Board Elects New Members

News Release

Seven community members with diverse professional experience and community backgrounds were elected to the REACH Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors at the March 22 meeting. The elected members include individuals with backgrounds in health policy, diversity and inclusion, higher education administration, accounting and audit, human resources, behavioral health, oral health and nursing. Two individuals were incumbents elected for a second term. The terms for the new REACH Board members begin on June 1. Two individuals are incumbents elected for a second term. The following individuals will begin their board terms on June 1:

  • Katherine Ferro, Senior Clinical Transformation Consultant for United Healthcare, with experience in health care quality initiatives. Ferro is a resident of Johnson County, KS.
  • Jon Marshall, Vice President for Academic Affairs with the Allen County Community College in Iola, Kansas. Marshall is an incumbent member elected for a second term. He is a resident of Allen County, KS.
  • Jerrihlyn McGee, Program Director and Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Education at the KU School of Nursing. McGee is a resident of Wyandotte County, KS.
  • Wendy Neal, Assistant Director of Human Resources, Safety and Manufacturing and Quality Coordinator for Sioux Chief Manufacturing, headquartered in Peculiar, Mo. Neal is a resident of Cass County, MO.
  • Todd Pleimann, current member of the REACH Community Advisory Community and Managing Partner at RubinBrown’s Kansas City-area office. Pleimann is a resident of Johnson County, KS.
  • Heather Samuel, current member of the REACH Community Advisory Community and practicing dental hygienist and Professor of Dental Hygiene at Johnson County Community College. Samuel is a resident of Johnson County, KS.
  • Lynette Sparkman-Barnes, senior staff psychologist and Associate Director of Counseling Services at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sparkman-Barnes is a resident of Wyandotte County, KS.

The REACH Board annually elects members from the foundation’s six-county service area to serve on the board of directors. Board terms are three years, and members are eligible to serve up to two terms. Find more information about the REACH Board of Directors —

REACH Foundation Awards $342,438 in Grants to Support Care Connector Services

The REACH Healthcare Foundation has awarded nine grants totaling $342,438 to support projects that use care coordinators and other types of connectors to help uninsured and medically underserved individuals access health services. The organizations were selected through a request for proposal within the foundation’s Strong Safety Net outcome investment area that focuses on using connectors to close the gap between consumer need and health care.

“To address the foundation’s commitment to reducing health disparities, this funding RFP placed particular emphasis on the health care needs of individuals who generally face substantial obstacles to care – homeless youth and adults, immigrants and refugees, migrant workers in rural areas, and young people transitioning out of foster care,” said Brenda Sharpe, President and CEO of the REACH Foundation. “The organizations awarded grants bring experience with these populations and have demonstrated success in helping them navigate complicated health care systems to secure the care they need.”

The nine funded organizations work in urban, suburban and rural settings and employ care coordinators, community health workers, mental health engagement specialists, promotoras, case managers and other types of patient support to improve access to care. Applicants were asked to address how their proposed projects would reduce health disparities that result from lack of understanding of health care systems, language and cultural barriers, health literacy, trust issues and other issues that prevent some individuals from seeking care.

The Care Connector grants were awarded to the following organizations:

In Kansas:

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas Allen County $40,000
El Centro, Inc. Johnson and Wyandotte $40,000
KidsTLC, Inc. Johnson County $40,000

In Missouri:

Health Care Coalition of Lafayette County Lafayette County $40,000
Health Care Coalition of Lafayette County on behalf of Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Fund Lafayette County $40,000
Jewish Vocational Service Jackson County $39,983
ReDiscover, Inc. Jackson County $32,241
reStart, Inc. Jackson County $40,000
Synergy Services, Inc. City of Kansas City $30,214

Health care connectors are one of four strategies within the foundation’s Strong Safety Net investment area. REACH previously awarded $417,961 in care connector grants in 2016 and 2017. The 2018 grants begin March 1 and are awarded for a 12-month period.

For more information on the Care Connectors RFP and grant recipients, contact Carla Gibson, Senior Program Officer

REACH Releases RFP to Support Care Coordination, Health Care Navigation Efforts

The REACH Foundation has released a new Request for Proposal (RFP) within the foundation’s Strong Safety Net outcome investment area to support projects within the strategy: “Connecting health care consumers, providers and services to reduce the gap between consumer need and health care.”

This RFP builds on two prior years of investments in safety net organizations within the REACH service area that have been utilizing care connectors and other types of navigators to assist uninsured and medically under-served consumers. Those investments have helped REACH and our grantee partners explore how care coordination, patient navigation and other connector services can facilitate improved health care access and quality for underserved populations, as well as reduce health disparities that occur due to lack of understanding of health care systems, language and cultural barriers, health literacy and trust issues and other concerns that prevent some consumers from seeking care.

The Strong Safety Net: Care Connections RFP seeks proposals from safety net organizations that are utilizing community health workers, engagement specialists, care coordinators, healthcare navigators, mental health engagement specialists, promotoras and other forms of patient support designed to connect uninsured and underinsured consumers to accessible, affordable, quality health care services.

The foundation’s current strategic plan and Theory of Change place a priority on improving access to quality health care for disconnected and marginalized populations with a particular emphasis on addressing the health concerns of homeless, refugee, migrant and undocumented immigrant persons, and youth transitioning out of foster care. Along with these priority populations, proposals will be considered from organizations that demonstrate expertise with, and service to, rural and urban uninsured persons and those living in remote or high-poverty communities. The foundation will award up to 10 grants within this RFP.


Review the Care Connections RFP for an explanation of the proposal requirements, eligibility criteria and the application process. Applicants are asked to describe how their organization’s care connector project will address barriers and improve outcomes as outlined in the Care Connections Theory of Change. The link to the application form can be found in the RFP. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by 4:00 p.m.


REACH Staff Reflect on 2017 Successes

So far in 2017, the foundation has seen positive investment returns every single month of this year. I can’t wait to see how we eventually invest these funds into the community.

Jo Yun, Vice President of Finance & Operations/CFO


Since we implemented the Employee Matching Gifts program in 2007, REACH has matched nearly $72,000 in contributions and donations to United Way and other community organizations! We may be small, but we’re mighty! It’s a pleasure to work amongst such givers.

Becky Benak, Director of Grants & Operations


I enjoyed working with our advocacy partners, who are always ready with solid research and advice on health policies that are important to REACH. Thanks, too, to my communications peers from the other health foundations who are generous with their ideas and resources.

Pattie Mansur, Director of Communications & Health Policy


This summer, we were so excited to see the strong community support for the Immigrant Health Summer Series. We look forward to further deepening our learning, partnerships and investments in immigrant/refugee communities in the coming year.

Carla Gibson, Senior Program Officer


The REACH team took health and wellness to a grand level – 100% participation in the flu shot challenge. Nicely done, staff!

Dawn Downes, Senior Program Officer


Wrapping up another year of work supporting the REACH Board and Community Advisory Committee. We’re fortunate to have such dedicated volunteers.

Georgeann Hemry, Executive Assistant


I’m so proud of our foundation’s commitment to giving back to the community, evidenced not only in our grant making, but also in staff contributions to our internal United Way campaign, for which I had the honor of serving as coordinator. This year we increased our giving by almost $3,000, resulting in a $24,768 donation!

Mathew Davis, Office & Communications Assistant


Click here to read President & CEO Brenda Sharpe’s 2017 Reflection

REACH CEO Shares a Few Highlights of the Year

At the end of the year, as the REACH team works to tie up loose ends on grants awarded, projects being planned for the coming year, and preparing for the holidays, I always marvel at how committed and focused individuals are capable of tackling complex problems knowing that solutions are, in fact, within reach. I also reflect on how much can be accomplished when we work together.

Particularly satisfying for me this year was our Board’s decision to go deeper and be more public regarding our commitment to improving immigrant and refugee health.

Drawing on the ideas and issues raised by metro-area leaders who work with immigrants and refugees, the REACH Foundation sponsored an Immigrant Health Summer Series – three programs that looked at the legal, social and health and mental health concerns of immigrant and refugee members of our community. Frankly, we weren’t sure what kind of response we would get to the series. As it turned out, the sessions drew more than 250 participants and helped us solidify relationships with organizations that have deep ties to immigrant and refugee populations in the community. These partnerships have provided our team with fresh ideas on ways to invest more strategically in this area in 2018.

In the early spring we both despaired and celebrated a near-win on Medicaid expansion in Kansas. Thanks to the determined outreach and energy of a large group of Kansas advocates led by the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, the Legislature passed HB 2044—The Bridge to a Healthy Kansas by a healthy majority. Governor Brownback vetoed the bill in early April and the House upheld the veto in an override action by just three votes. While we did not get the desired result, we did see a dramatic change in public opinion in all parts of the state about the health and economic benefits of Medicaid expansion – an important shift that we hope to build upon in 2018.

In Missouri, we worked alongside our business partners at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce to make Kansas City a trauma-informed community through Resilient KC. Together, we brought a new partner from St. Louis to engage with regional leaders in mental health and to establish Alive and Well KC in an effort to address the devastating impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) at the individual and community level.

In partnership with several of our Missouri and Kansas funding partners, we commissioned the Research Triangle Institute to conduct what we believe to be the largest Kansas and Missouri consumer experience survey on health care coverage and access in history. This survey will give us a better understanding of the unique challenges people face in accessing affordable health coverage and quality primary and specialty care, mental health services and oral health care. The insights we’ll gain will help us better focus our community investments and communicate more effectively with policymakers.

A special thanks to the Board of Directors, Community Advisory Council and staff of the foundation. They make the work look easy when it is most complex, and are 100 percent behind our mission.  To the many community partners serving those who need it most—THANK YOU!  You inspire us and strengthen our resolve.

Brenda R. Sharpe
President and CEO


Click here to read REACH Staff Reflections

REACH Foundation Awards $1.4 Million in Core Support to 27 Organizations

News Release

MERRIAM, KANSAS – The REACH Healthcare Foundation has announced Core Operating Partner grants totaling $1.4 million to 27 health care, advocacy and policy, and coordinating organizations for 2018. The general support grants are awarded each year to nonprofit organizations whose work is highly aligned with the foundation’s focus on increasing access to health coverage and quality health care, and in most cases are for $50,000 annually.

The foundation has maintained a longstanding commitment to investing in the general operations of effective nonprofit organizations. Since 2006, REACH has awarded more than 199 grants totaling $13.9 million.

Brenda Sharpe, REACH Foundation President and CEO, said the organizations funded for 2018 are “leaders in strengthening the health care safety net, advocating for consumers, and providing valuable information and assistance to individuals who are uninsured and medically underserved within our six-county service area.”

The organizations selected include primary care, mental health and oral health care organizations, rural health networks, community health coalitions, and advocacy and policy organizations. Six organizations were selected because of their work with specific vulnerable populations, including homeless youth and adults, foster care youth, and immigrants and refugees. Two organizations, reStart Inc. and Cornerstones of Care, are new additions to the core partners list for next year.

The following 27 organizations will receive the grants:

  • Cass Community Health Foundation
  • Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, Inc.
  • Community Health Council of Wyandotte County
  • Comprehensive Mental Health Services
  • Cornerstones of Care
  • El Centro, Inc.
  • Health Care Coalition of Lafayette County, MO
  • Health Partnership Clinic
  • Jewish Vocational Service
  • Johnson County Mental Health Center
  • Kansas Action for Children
  • Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved
  • KC CARE Clinic
  • Kansas Center for Economic Growth (via Kansas Action for Children)
  • KidsTLC, Inc.
  • Mattie Rhodes Center
  • Missouri Budget Project
  • Missouri Health Care for All
  • ReDiscover
  • reStart, Inc.
  • Rodgers Health
  • Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center
  • Synergy Services
  • Thrive Allen County
  • Tri-County Mental Health Services, Inc.
  • Turner House / Wyandotte Community Health Center
  • Wyandot Center for Community Behavioral Healthcare

REACH Seeks Candidates with Health Interests for Board

MERRIAM, KANSAS – The REACH Healthcare Foundation is accepting applications from individuals with an interest in issues pertaining to health equity and health care access to fill positions on the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The deadline to apply is Thursday, December 14, 2017.

The REACH Foundation is a regional philanthropy governed by a 17-member volunteer Board that awards grants and provides other support to strengthen health insurance coverage and services for uninsured and medically underserved people. The foundation’s service area encompasses six counties in the bi-state area:  Allen, Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas; and Cass, Jackson and Lafayette counties in Missouri, including Kansas City, Missouri.

A 13-member Community Advisory Committee (CAC) leads the Board nominations process, with responsibility for developing a slate of nominees who bring a broad array of professional experience and reflect the demographic diversity of the foundation’s service area. Applicants also must be 18 or older and reside in the REACH service area. Board terms are three years; members are eligible to serve two terms. The selection process will be completed in March 2018, and new members will begin their terms in June 2018.

Each year, the REACH Board and CAC identify additional specific recruitment needs, which may include expertise in the financial, management, health services and nonprofit fields, and/or volunteer experience. For more information on the nominations process, vacancies and priority skillsets, contact Brenda Sharpe, REACH Foundation President and CEO, at (913) 432-4196.

Applicants must complete a Statement of Interest form and submit a resume by December 14, 2017.

Follow the link to access the application form:

More information is available here.


Board Profiles: Find profiles of REACH Board members at

REACH Announces Outreach & Enrollment Grants

The REACH Healthcare Foundation has awarded $287,250 to seven nonprofit organizations to provide targeted outreach and enrollment assistance during the upcoming open enrollment period. The grants will support six regional organizations and one national organization to ensure consumers have the information they need to make a health plan selection during the enrollment period, which begins November 1.

REACH has awarded a total of $939,650 to support outreach and enrollment activities since 2016.

Grants were awarded based on the organization’s previous success with outreach and enrollment, their expertise in reaching underserved populations within the foundation’s six-county service area, and their capacity to collaborate with other agencies to extend their reach. The grant recipients include:

  • Community Health Council of Wyandotte County
  • Johnson County Department of Health and Environment
  • Thrive Allen County
  • Live Well Clinics/Health Care Coalition of Lafayette County
  • Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center
  • Truman Medical Center

The foundation awarded $10,000 to Young Invincibles, a national research and advocacy organization that seeks to engage young adults in policy issues that affect their economic well-being, to provide REACH partners access to the organization’s Connector tool, a data tool to schedule appointments, coordinate outreach and follow-up, and track enrollment results.

Health navigators are working with several changes in the enrollment process this year. The federal government reduced the open enrollment period to six weeks from the three months during previous periods. In addition, there were changes in assister certification training and availability of the site, as well as consumer confusion about availability of health plans and financial assistance. To maximize enrollment success, the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County (CHC) has established the Kansas Assisters Network (KAN), a Johnson and Wyandotte county coalition of more than a dozen clinics, hospitals, public health departments and school districts, to provide assister training, promote enrollment, direct people to enrollment sites and collaborate on enrollment activities.

Molly Moffett, CHC program manager, said KAN offers a vehicle for “pulling together a lot of partners quickly to make sure our consumers understand the health insurance marketplace is in operation, financial support is still available, and that we can provide in-person help for those who need it.”

Thrive Allen County will have six certified health navigators working this enrollment period. Lisse Regehr, Thrive’s director of outreach and advocacy, said the addition of four navigators this year will provide coverage on evenings and weekends. Regehr said there will be an additional emphasis on reaching consumers beyond Iola, including LaHarpe, Elsmore, Moran and Savonburg. Regehr said the goal is to position navigators where consumers live.

The REACH outreach and enrollment grants align with a key foundation focus on enrolling all eligible people in the health insurance marketplace or existing publicly funded programs. REACH has awarded a total of $939,650 to support outreach and enrollment activities since 2016.

Advocates Mount Strong Effort to Secure CHIP Renewal

Health providers and advocates have been maintaining a steady public call to Congress to extend federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is set to end on September 30, 2017, unless Congress acts to renew financial support – ideally for another five years.

CHIP is a federally funded and state-administered block grant, and an important counterpart to Medicaid. Medicaid and CHIP cover approximately 39 percent of the nation’s children. Medicaid covers more than 37 million and CHIP serves 8.9 million. These programs have produced significant improvement in children’s coverage status – reducing the children’s uninsured rate to a record low of 5 percent. Together, they provide a broad set of benefits, including regular medical, vision, hearing and dental screenings as well as physical, occupational, and speech and language therapies for children with special needs.

Failure to renew would place children’s coverage at risk and add to financial pressure on states. Some states operate CHIP within their Medicaid programs; others, including Kansas, maintain separate programs. Children in separate CHIP programs could shift to their parents’ employer-sponsored plans or marketplace plans, but others would become uninsured. The result could be a reversal of coverage gains achieved over the years, potentially causing 1.1 million children to become uninsured.

This situation would likely force states to alter their programs to contain costs. Nearly all 50 states, including Kansas and Missouri, planned for continued federal funding in their 2018 fiscal year budgets. While states can continue to spend their unused funds until they run out, at least 10 expect to expend their funding in 2017; 32 states (including Kansas and Missouri) project they will run out of funding by the end of March 2018.

Given the proven health benefits of CHIP, a renewal decision should not wait until September 30. As Congress deliberates on a variety of health proposals, it is time to place this smart investment at the top of their list. LEARN MORE


REACH CEO Denounces Recent Events in Charlottesville, Va.