Foundation for a Healthy Ky. granted $1 million in 2016, pushing 15-year total above $26 million; plans more smoke-free work

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky awarded grants in 2016 totaling a little more than $1 million to nonprofit organizations and community health coalitions working to improve Kentucky’s health.

That brought the foundation’s total investments to nearly $26.7 million since it was created in 2001 to help improve the state’s health and address the unmet health-care needs of Kentuckians, it said in a news release.

“Even when earnings on our endowment have been down, we have been able to invest in demonstration programs, advocacy efforts and research to help make Kentucky healthier,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the foundation. “We’ve built a substantial foundation of information about what works. Moving forward, we will be advocating more actively for policy changes such as smoke-free laws that can really move the needle in Kentucky by improving and extending Kentuckians’ lives while reducing health-care costs.”

The foundation has awarded 745 grants. In 2016, grantees included seven community health coalitions across Kentucky, as well as organizations including Kentucky Youth Advocates, Kentucky Voices for Health, the Kentucky Population Health Institute, the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, and the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy.

The foundation also funds research to help policy makers at state and local levels understand what works to improve health. The foundation invested another $824,000 in research, including the annual Kentucky Health Issues Poll, educational events such as the Health for a Change training webinars and workshops and the annual Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum, and obtaining and reporting data valuable to understanding health policy implications.

“A portion also went to nonprofit news organizations to increase the number of health and health-policy related stories in the media,” the foundation said. One of those grants was $35,000 to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky, to publish Kentucky Health News.

The foundation was created in 2001 from the charitable assets of Anthem Inc., recovered in a lawsuit by Chandler when he was state attorney general after the company converted from a mutual insurance firm to a stock company. Under the settlement, the $45 million was invested and only earnings from it may be spent. Chandler became president and CEO of the foundation in September.

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