Spring 2023


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Spring 2023 Issue

New grant-making process underway

With a new year comes renewed energy – and new funding opportunities at Telligen Community Initiative. In early March, we received 154 applications for the Healthcare Workforce Development grant cycle.

I am consistently amazed and encouraged by the quality of applications we receive and the great work taking place in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma to find strategic, sustainable solutions to health care workforce shortages.
The profound needs and ideas to address both our current and future health workforce needs are on full display in innovative solutioning throughout our four states.

See the breakdown of applicants by state and sub-priority here.

Round two

While we review our first round of grant applications, it’s also time to prepare ahead of the next deadline.

Applications for our new Strengthening Families and Communities (Social Determinants of Health) grants are due June 16, 2023. Find the full RFP on our website. We intend to seek and support projects that address the following themes:

  • Pre-pregnancy and pregnancy - healthy births
  • School readiness and school health
  • Healthy parenting skill development / strengthening family supports
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) prevention / protective factors

Renewed focus

The 2023 grant cycle sets the stage for a new grant-making process at TCI in an effort to provide greater clarity around our funding priorities while staying true to our ultimate goal of helping you improve the health of our communities.  

As I mentioned in our last newsletter, these changes were implemented thoughtfully and purposefully to provide greater, targeted impact. Now, grant deadlines have been set by funding priority rather than by targeted states. Nonprofits from all four states – Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma – can apply in each funding cycle. In addition, the per-grant maximum award has been increased to $75,000 to better honor the project scope present in so many worthy project applications that come to us.

As you plan for upcoming grant applications, TCI staff are available to discuss your project as well as answer any questions. Ahead of our March 3 deadline, TCI staff helped 68% of applicants with their proposal – the highest percentage of assistance for an applicant field to date. Please contact us at 515-554-2908 or email me at mmcgarvey@telligenci.org.

Establishing an equity baseline

As TCI seeks to promote a just, equitable and sustainable society through our grant-making, we asked applicants in the first grant cycle of 2023 to submit information about their own efforts surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion.

This baseline information gauges where our applicant community – all very different people and organizations from four very different states – stands in their journey to address equity in their core work, governance composition and internal processes and policies. The information was not used to make funding decisions and we recognize that everyone is at a different point.

There is not a threshold we’re expecting our applicants to achieve, and none of this should be viewed as right, wrong, correct or incorrect. As you review the survey results below, consider where and how you and your organization are on this journey.

See the results of our equity assessment here.

Grantee Spotlight:

Supporting Iowa's social workers

Researchers study gaps in social work labor force, recommend next steps

On the heels of National Social Work Month in March, Telligen Community Initiative is highlighting a previous grantee’s efforts to study and better advocate for social workers in Iowa.

In 2018, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – Iowa Chapter received a nearly $50,000 grant from TCI to support a social work labor force study. The study took a broad look at the field – from labor shortages to the state’s 13 schools of social work to perceptions of social workers.

“TCI seeks to be the solution to gaps in understanding, research and funding related to the betterment of Iowa communities,” said Matt McGarvey, executive director of TCI. “We are proud to play a role in prioritizing social services within our state in partnership with the NASW-Iowa Chapter.”

Two researchers led the study: Miriam Landsman, executive director of the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice within the University of Iowa’s School of Social Work; and Stephanie Crandall, then an intern with NASW-Iowa Chapter and now a clinical social worker and therapist in Iowa.

We want to have some hard data that illustrates the importance of social work in the state of Iowa,” said Denise Rathman, executive director of the NASW-Iowa Chapter. “It’s not just mental health – it’s housing and other things people need to be able to fully interact with friends and communities. The funding from TCI continues to make an impact on social work research and practice.”

“Meeting the needs of Iowans through the services of professional social workers: An assessment of the Iowa social work labor force” resulted in three key findings:

Data within the report also informed a study, “Rural Challenges in Social Work Regulation,” recently published in Research on Social Work Practice, a peer-reviewed journal. The article was co-authored by Landsman and Rathman.
1. Comprehensive data do not exist on who is graduating from Iowa’s social work programs and if or how they can fill workforce needs.

The researchers recommended developing a statewide initiative that compiles data on social work graduates every year – particularly because there is a growing need for social workers in rural Iowa and to serve non-English-speaking people.

In the same vein, they recommended recruitment strategies focusing on bilingual people, and expanding online degree options to better reach rural prospective students. They also encouraged schools to partner with college career centers and local organizations to employ social work students in matching fields before graduation.

2. Iowa lacks a comprehensive list of employers who hire or could potentially hire social workers.

While some of this work occurred in the study, the researchers recommended that the NASW-Iowa Chapter continue developing and formalizing the list, which can be used to identify workforce needs and organizations who may be interested in hiring social workers.

Throughout the study, participants made it clear: Recruitment is more challenging than retention. In turn, the researchers encouraged the NASW-Iowa Chapter and employers to launch localized recruitment efforts.

3. While social workers have a strong professional identity and commitment to their work, they struggle with low salaries and student debt.

The study supported the NASW-Iowa Chapter’s ongoing advocacy work to support social workers, including advocating for expanded access to student loan forgiveness and for salaries that better match their qualifications and abilities.

The researchers also recommended local and national campaigns to promote the skills and value of social workers – as it’s often a profession that’s not understood or misunderstood.

Data within the report also informed a study, “Rural Challenges in Social Work Regulation,”recently published in Research on Social Work Practice, a peer-reviewed journal. The article was co-authored by Landsman and Rathman.

Congratulations, Count the Kicks!

We want to send best wishes to Healthy Birth Day, Inc. and Count the Kicks as they prepare to “graduate” from the Synergy Center.

Count the Kicks, a public health program by nonprofit Healthy Birth Day Inc., focuses on stillbirth prevention through the tracking of fetal movements in the third trimester of pregnancy. Their hallmark tool is the free Count the Kicks app, which is available in 16 languages.

After more than six years with us at the Synergy Center, we are saying a bittersweet goodbye to the Count the Kicks team as they move into their own, larger physical office space.

We are excited to see Count the Kicks continue their momentum and positive impact, and we are thankful to have been a small part of the journey. As one of the founding nonprofit participants of the Synergy Center, Healthy Birth Day, Inc., was originally staffed by one part-time employee. They have since grown to a team of 16 gifted professionals.

The Synergy Center is located at 501 SW 7th St., Suite G, in Des Moines. The space is a collaborative office that offers no-cost, co-working space to Iowa-based nonprofits that are focused on different facets of the social determinants of health in order to advance their mission without having to focus on overhead costs.

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