REACH Healthcare Foundation Celebrates 20 Years

September 20, 2023

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REACH Healthcare Foundation celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2023! The foundation formally marked the occasion on August 24 with a celebration and grantee reception at Swope Health Central. REACH grantee partners, current and former board and community advisory committee members, and other foundation stakeholders convened to commemorate two decades of the foundation’s mission to advance health equity through coverage and care for underserved people in our region.

To mark REACH’s continued and expanded commitment to equitable philanthropy, Dr. Laura Gerald, President of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and Board Chair of Grantmakers In Health, Dr. Lynette Sparkman-Barnes, REACH Board Chair, Brenda Sharpe, REACH President and CEO, and D. Rashaan Gilmore, Founder/CEO of REACH grantee partner BlaqOut, discussed the role of philanthropy in advancing racial equity and repairing historical disparities in allocation and distribution of community assets such as those held by REACH.

“I’m proud of the steps our board and staff have taken to ensure that this foundation is more equitable, fair, and progressive in its philosophy and practices, and we wanted to publicly highlight some of those actions as part of our 20th Anniversary celebration,” said Sharpe.

“Although we have always sought to be an equitable and fair funder, it had become increasingly clear that many of our grantmaking processes and practices were in fact excluding some of the most trusted organizations in our community. Unsurprisingly, those organizations are often also most effective at advancing our shared vision that all people achieve equitable health outcomes.”

One way the foundation has demonstrated its commitment to centering racial equity in its work was the release earlier this summer of a Racial Equity Narrative. Sharpe noted that REACH wants to be seen as an authentic voice and partner on matters of racial and health equity, and be judged on its actions in how REACH invests in community, not just words.

“While we celebrate how far we have come as an organization, the REACH Board and I acknowledge that much more needs to be done and have implemented many changes to internal systems and processes to hold ourselves accountable.”

Carla Gibson, Vice President of Programs, was honored at the celebration in recognition of her leadership in guiding the foundation toward a more equitable future through actions such as greater investment in Black and Brown organizations, changes to the foundation’s application and grantmaking processes and requirements, and introducing intensive learning and reflection opportunities for board and staff.

Sharpe also thanked REACH’s grantee partners for their leadership, service and perseverance, including leaders from the more than 90 critical nonprofit organizations in attendance.

“The work our grantee partners carry out every single day is critical to advancing health equity. They tangibly improve the health outcomes of people living in our six-county service area.”

“Without these partners we would not have Medicaid Expansion in Missouri, or nine Federally Qualified Health Centers in our region. We now have tens of thousands of people enrolled in public health insurance and other benefit programs that wouldn’t be covered otherwise. Our partners always have their ear to the ground and their hands outstretched to help their neighbors and communities in need. Our mission of advancing health equity comes to life because of them, and we are grateful every day for their work.”

REACH Through the Years:
2003 | 27-member founding Board of Directors appointed and convened
2004 | Brenda Sharpe hired as first CEO; Headquarters established at 6700 Antioch, Merriam, KS
2004 | 24-member Community Advisory Committee appointed and convened
2005 | First round of grants awarded totaling $1.75 million
2006 | Project Ready Smile Initiative launched
2007 | HPV & Medical Home Initiatives launched
2009 | Cultural Competency Initiative launched
2012 | Governance restructured to 17 Board Members, 13 CAC members, 5 appointing authorities
2012 | Affordable Care Act passes, propels REACH’s support for Medicaid expansion
2012 | Rural Health Initiative launched
2013 | Foundation celebrates 10-year anniversary
2015 | Equity focus incorporated in Foundation’s mission statement
2016 | REACH crafts first policy agenda
2016 | REACH adopts statement of non-discrimination, extends requirement to grantee partners
2016 | Immigrant and refugee health prioritized as a strategic focus
2018 | Welcoming KC launched
2018 | Census Equity Initiative launched, results in regional pooled fund
2019 | Racial equity formally adopted as a strategic focus
2020 | Headquarters relocated to 8131 Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park, KS
2020 | Foundation pivots to respond to COVID-19 pandemic and intensifies racial equity focus
2020 | Advocates secure Medicaid expansion in Missouri
2021 | Centering Black Voices pilot and CBV Advisory Board launched
2021 | Greater KC Chamber of Commerce assumes leadership of Welcoming KC plan
2022 | Governance restructured to 17 Board members, 5 appointing authorities, CAC sunsets
2022 | Core Operating portfolio expanded to include more diverse partners and multi-year funding
2022 | Racial Equity Narrative adopted, acknowledging REACH’s role in perpetuating inequities
2023 | Rapid REACH Equity Fund launched to respond to needs of smaller nonprofits


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