Fall 2023


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Fall 2023 Issue

Announcing 2023 Strengthening Families & Communities grantees

Telligen Community Initiative is proud to announce 18 recipients of our 2023 Strengthening Families and Communities (Social Determinants of Health) grants.

Strengthening Families and Communities grants totaled $1,017,252 this year. Since 2014, TCI has funded more than $15.9 million in community-based support to nearly 400 projects in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma.

This grant cycle focused funding on the Social Determinants of Health and more upstream issues that impact health status. Selected projects seek to decrease health disparities and improve equitable solutions that advance optimal physical, mental and social health and well-being for families and youth.

These nonprofit organizations recognize the importance of support, education and empowerment of children and families from day one. Below, you will learn how the nonprofits will use their TCI grants to address maternal and infant health, unique issues facing older youth, children’s mental health, parenting education and more – particularly among historically marginalized communities.


Child Advocates – Denver CASA ($50,000) will help address the gap in individualized services for older youth as they prepare to age out of the child welfare system in Denver. The project will provide CASA volunteers or mentors to participating youth in the Older Youth Program.

This grant will support Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative’s ($74,568) Family Integration to ReStore Trust (FIRST) program, which strategically integrates pregnant and postpartum people and families with lived experience into every level of maternal-infant care in Colorado health care facilities and communities to address root causes of maternal mortality and increase access to culturally relevant, safe, equitable care.

This grant will allow Envision: You ($69,875) to provide workshops that encourage caregivers of LGBTQ+ youth to create accepting and affirming environments and advocate for their safety and inclusion. Adult support is critical for LGBTQ+ youth mental health, suicide prevention, lifelong well-being and healthy relationships.

The Gyedi Project ($75,000) aims to use an interdisciplinary team of Black professionals in medicine, public health, psychology and behavioral science, in collaboration with community leaders, to address the growing inequity in maternal health outcomes through community and individualized education of Black women.


Children’s Home & Aid (now Brightpoint) ($75,000) will use its grant to support its Doula Program inRockford, in which doulas provide support to high-risk young women before, during and after pregnancy in order to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect and to develop strong parent-child attachments and healthy futures for families.

Elyssa’s Mission ($51,215) helps prevent youth suicide and unifies Illinois schools in a collective shift from stigma to support by expanding its evidence-based Hope Squad program, which organizes peer-nominated, advisor-trained support teams to identify and reach out to others exhibiting warning signs of suicide.

This grant will allow the Shawnee Health Service and Development Corporation ($75,000) to expand its OBGYN clinic doula services to reach 200 expectant mothers, providing education and support to positively affect maternal and infant health outcomes.

This grant will help SIHF Healthcare ($50,000), a Federally Qualified Health Center serving low-income populations across southern Illinois, establish sustainable medical and mental health services in schools where children struggle due to a lack of medical access created by low social determinants of health.

This grant will support Youth Crossroads, Inc.'s ($30,000) workforce development program, which will provide introductory training in community health work and youth mental health services to high school students and young adults in Chicago’s near-west suburbs, which are 87% low-income and 84% first-and second-generation Latina/o/x.


This grant will allow the Catherine McAuley Center ($28,810) to provide refugee children and families with programming that supports their physical, social and mental health, including prenatal classes for Afghan women, parent education classes for refugee parents and guardians, and programming for refugee middle and high school youth.

FAMILY, Inc. ($75,000) will use this grant to support its Healthy Pregnancy Program, which provides education and support to low-income pregnant individuals to ensure healthy babies and reduce maternal mortality amid an ever-increasing maternity care desert in Iowa.

This grant will support the Iowa Black Doula Collective’s ($63,200) work to improve Black maternal and child health outcomes in Iowa through targeted integrative services, including comprehensive doula support for prenatal care, birth, breastfeeding and postpartum health; culturally responsive parenting group support; and postpartum health resources and referrals.

This grant will help Lutheran Services in Iowa ($25,000) support its Early Childhood Home Visitation programming, which provides evidence-based and locally designed family support and parent education for at-risk pregnant women and families with children ages 0-5 in order to promote positive child development outcomes and safe, healthy families.

Visiting Nurse Association of Pottawattamie County ($20,505) will use this grant to support its home-and shelter-based Parenting Support programs, which strengthen high-need, high-promise children and families through a multigenerational focus on maternal and child health, prevention of abuse and neglect, child development and school readiness, parenting skills and family self-sufficiency.


This grant will support Community Action Project of Tulsa County’s ($75,000) home visit program, in which trained parent educators meet one-on-one with parents and children in their homes. The focus of these visits is parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting and family well-being.

With this grant, Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc. ($75,000) will establish a Caring Dads program, an evidence-based intervention curriculum for fathers who have perpetrated violence in their families. This will change DVIS’ current counseling practices to better include fathers in order to enhance their children's safety and well-being.

This grant will aid HopeHouse OKC’s ($30,000) support of families facing homelessness with housing, case management and family-centered programs. Their hopeKIDS program focuses on working with children and parents as well as offering after-school activities, parent-child classes, mentoring, group counseling and trauma-informed training.

This grant will support the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma’s ($74,079) PACE Advocate Initiative, which will serve approximately 150 tribal members within the UKB’s 14-county tribal jurisdictional boundaries in northeastern Oklahoma, coordinating tribal and external services to address adverse childhood experiences among UKB children and families.

Grantee Spotlight:

Increasing Black representation in the C-suite

Over the years, Antoinette Hardy-Waller saw a persistent gap. There were few – if any – Black executives in the C-suite and boardrooms of health care organizations.

Hardy-Waller’s career has included working as a nurse clinician in intensive care, launching home care companies and consulting for major health systems nationwide. Typically, she was also one of the few Black women – and sometimes the only Black woman – at the table.

As she served on boards, Hardy-Waller also realized that not everyone felt as empowered as she did to use their voice for change, justice and equity.

So in 2014, she founded The Leverage Network (TLN). In 2020, TLN created the Healthcare Executive Leadership Program, which was recently rebranded as Beyond Boundaries, to prepare Black leaders for board and executive leadership opportunities in healthcare and to use their influence to effect change to reduce health disparities and inequities, particularly in communities of color.

“I saw that individuals in the C-suite – primarily white men – wanted to understand better how to improve and enhance care and access for communities of color,” said Hardy-Waller, CEO and president of The Leverage Network. “But there was a gap. There was no one in the room to inform those decisions who understood the culture and appreciated the needs of those communities.”

Last year, TLN received a $50,000 Telligen Community Initiative grant to further its work with Beyond Boundaries.

Hiding in plain sight

Many believe that hard work alone will lead to promotions and career advancement – but that’s not always the case. Especially for Black executives, this often leads to what TLN calls the “hiding in plain sight” phenomenon.

“What we’re saying is yes, you have to work hard and do a good job, but people have to know you, as well,” Hardy-Waller said. “When promotions come up, sometimes Black executives are looked over because they haven’t made themselves as visible within the organization.

“It isn’t always that the organization doesn’t want to promote people of color. Sometimes it’s due to our inability to navigate the organization, raise our visibility and position ourselves for opportunities. It became a perfect storm in my mind.”

Research demonstrates a correlation between low representation of Black people in leadership roles at health care organizations and the persistent health inequities and disparities faced by Black communities across the U.S.

“When we look around the rooms where decisions are being made about resources and how they are disbursed and allocated, there is seldom anyone in the room who looks like the communities they are trying to serve,” Hardy-Waller said.

The Leverage Network, the Health Equity Leadership Pipeline Collaborative at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and McGuire Woods conducted a study of U.S. health care organizations from 2016 to 2018, and found:

13% of board members were Black

8.5% of CEOs were Black

Zero CEOs were Black women‍

Antoinette Hardy-Waller CEO and president The Leverage Network

‘Inequity starts at the top’

Beyond Boundaries is unlike other training programs, conferences or coaching. The six-month program examines the unique experiences of Black health care executives and provides a space in which they can be candid and transparent.

The program’s curriculum is designed to prepare senior Black professionals for the top C-suite roles within the health care ecosystem. The program gives participants tools and techniques – framed by social justice and equity – to help them navigate their environments and advance as quickly as their talent and expertise can take them.

Of the two cohorts that have already graduated, 40% have been promoted to higher leadership roles. Beyond Boundaries’ third cohort started at the end of September.

In the coming months, TLN will launch an impact study to understand Beyond Boundaries alumni’s experiences in the program, how it helped them advance in their careers and how they implemented equity initiatives into their organizations.

“As you get more leadership that looks like the organization’s communities they serve, you can begin to see differences in the health inequities that face those communities,” Hardy-Waller said. “Inequity starts at the top. You can’t have diverse outcomes without having diverse voices and leadership in the room.”

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