The Vitalyst Health Foundation Board of Trustees has approved $700,000 for four Systems Change Grants. The grants, each worth $175,000 over three years, are part of the Foundation’s ongoing mission to improve health and well-being for vulnerable populations across Arizona. Grant recipients are Activate Food Arizona, Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth, the Northern Arizona University Foundation and the Pima County Attorney’s Office. These grants will be augmented with support from The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona and the NARBHA Institute.
“Vitalyst was fortunate to be able to consider many worthy proposals. The selected projects are the ones our team and Board of Trustees felt would make the greatest impact,” said Suzanne Pfister, Vitalyst President and CEO. “These projects represent communities across Arizona and are proposing models that may be replicated across the state.”
Activate Food Arizona will help streamline the collaboration between Arizona-based and national partners to pilot the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Online with small healthy food retailers. A more equitable expansion of SNAP Online payment capabilities will improve economic opportunities for small retailers while increasing access to high quality, affordable foods for SNAP recipients, especially those living in rural and tribal communities and others with time and transportation limitations.
Community input and collected data via a Vitalyst Spark Grant highlighted substance use, racial inequity and strict systems as the top issues facing Coconino County citizens. Recognizing the need for trauma-informed systems that acknowledge individual experiences, the Coconino Coalition for Children and Youth will develop, in conjunction with the City of Flagstaff and the County, a mental model change ensuring resilience information is understood at City and County levels and enacted as policy change. The goal is to improve patient engagement, treatment adherence, health outcomes and provider and staff wellness.
The Northern Arizona University Foundation will work to eliminate structural barriers of the Medicaid system to improve outcomes for youth transitioning out of foster care (YTC) to independent living. The NAU Foundation will develop the first model of Medicaid reimbursement and implementation of occupational therapy transition services to objectively address the needs of youth transitioning out of foster care, a population with a long history of disparities and inequity, exacerbated by a history of trauma and instability.
The Pima County Attorney’s Office will foster a public-private collaboration structured to permanently change the way people arrested for certain low-level felonies and petty crimes are handled by the criminal justice system. The program will establish a relationship between prosecutors, public defenders and carefully selected participants that leads to a partnership with facilitators, counselors, and qualified volunteers to work to achieve behavioral change and minimize justice system involvement and disparities for highly represented groups. The goal is to help these individuals to put their lives back on track without incurring a criminal record and the unhealthy impact of an extended stay in jail.
Vitalyst Health Foundation is on a mission to inform, connect and support efforts to improve the health of individuals and communities in Arizona. Over its history, the foundation has invested more than $130 million and established itself as a key thought leader, convener and catalyst of key initiatives – ranging from statewide health policy and systems to development of local community gardens.