The Bold Step Forward: MHM’s journey to advance health equity at Aspen Ideas: Health

Embarking on a new journey is a conscious decision to embrace change, new possibilities, and transformation. However, journeys are seldom easy, and the path ahead is often brimming with unexpected barriers. Novel pursuits require years of lessons and growth but also commitment, courage, and conviction. Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas Inc. is embracing its current journey with a sharpened focus, greater intention, and broader mindset. To fully live out its mission in “Serving Humanity to Honor God,” Methodist Healthcare Ministries is forging a path to advance health equity and improve the wellness of the least served. Methodist Healthcare Ministries defines health equity as a framework of thought and action that strives to reduce racial and socio-economic disparities so that everyone can reach their full potential for health and life. In June, Methodist Healthcare Ministries shared its journey on a global stage.

Broadening ideas and minds

A delegation from Methodist Healthcare Ministries, St. David’s Foundation, and the Knapp Community Care Foundation travelled to Colorado for Aspen Ideas: Health. For over a decade, the event has been an international draw for various sectors of government, public health, and philanthropy. Over a thousand attendees engage in one-on-one interviews, panel discussions, live podcasts, and a plethora of other opportunities. The majestic mountains and green pastures set the scene for the one-of-a-kind experience which brings visionary minds and bold leaders together in one place.  Notable speakers this year included Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General, and Mandy Cohen, Director for U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2024 program was comprised of over 60 sessions and over 150 speakers that shared innovative ideas, and solutions to challenges in modern day health, medicine, and science.  Among those speakers was President and CEO of Methodist Healthcare Ministries, Jaime Wesolowski, who has led the organization’s journey to advance health equity. “As we continue to live out our mission in ‘Serving Humanity to Honor God’ it is important we recognize opportunities to highlight our work. Aspen Ideas: Health is the perfect stage to share our story and engage with others who have been or are just beginning their health equity journey.”

The first day served as a networking opportunity for members of the South Texas delegation. Sandra Martinez, Vice-President of Strategy & Partnerships for Methodist Healthcare Ministries shared what keeps her inspired. “What brings me joy is seeing the progress we’re making on our organizational journey of learning and partnership as we advance health equity. We’re transforming from within and seeing our processes, polices, and partnership change to be more community-centered and led.”  Wesolowski met with Wendy Ellis, Director at the Institute for Racial, Ethnic and Socioeconomic Equity at George Washington University. The conversation revolved around systems thinking and systems change and the shared work in advancing social justice and health equity. 

Illuminating legacies and lessons

Reimagining Equitable Systems for Thriving People and Places was a session on the second day. Conversation focused upon strategies that challenge traditional healthcare views and ways to build lasting community-led solutions. Wesolowski was joined by Kate Bollbach, Executive Director of Partners in Health United States, and Dave Chokshi, Chair of Common Health Coalition. Somava Saha, President and CEO of Well-Being and Equity in the World, led the conversation. Wesolowski opened with a retrospect of Methodist Healthcare Ministries first 25 years of creating access to care for the uninsured. Although there had been great strides, there were deep rooted challenges that needed to be addressed. “Health outcomes were not getting better they were getting worse, and they were getting worse for the populations we serve at a greater pace. Even though the work we are doing is important, we realize we have to do something else.” This new mindset led the organization to pivot and focus upon factors that impact the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH); outlined in Methodist Healthcare Ministries 20/20 Vision: Advancing Health Equity: The Strategic Plan & Framework. Wesolowski pointed to the three strategic focus areas that have served as Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ roadmap; transform internal processes and culture; strengthen communities; and impact systemic change. In transforming internal processes, Methodist Healthcare Ministries made investments at all levels of the organization, including the creation of the Organizational Excellence department; dedicated to implementing organizational systems and developing practices that align with Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ commitment to health equity. In an effort to strengthen communities, Methodist Healthcare Ministries is supporting the region it serves through community-led coalitions that are engaged to address concerns and empowered to create their solutions. Intentional investment into crosscutting areas, such as economic mobility, digital equity, and food security continues to grow and helps the organization to impact systemic change. By focusing attention into these areas, Methodist Healthcare Ministries began to broaden its definition of health care. Wesolowski said the strategic focus areas have guided the organization’s efforts in its journey to advance health equity. “We will continue to provide direct care, and we will do it very well, and at the same time we will prioritize community by community; what biggest gaps they have and address them with the same effectiveness.” Ballbach and Chokshi shared their respective expertise with the audience as best practices were exchanged, and ideas illuminated

Courtesy: C2 Photography

Is it Really Radical? The Right Risks for Systemic Change was a roundtable discussion hosted by Methodist Healthcare Ministries, which was held on day three. Over 20 national and global leaders spoke of innovative risks that are necessary in their work to advance health equity. The objective was to enlighten guests on how industry leaders can support a resilient framework of thought and action. Wesolowski spoke of the importance of investment in communities. “Follow the money in health to find opportunities to change structural well-being challenges. When you follow the money, most people will think of hospital or doctor profit margins. But those are typically below 5%. If you follow further, you will find far higher margins for pharmaceutical companies. Wouldn’t it be radical to reimagine how to redistribute some of that wealth to invest in community-led solutions based on the Social Determinants of Health?” Rishi Manchanda, MD, MPH is the founder of and President of HealthBeings. The organization supports the improvement of the social drivers of health and equity at all levels. Manchanda spoke of his experience, “Part of continuous learning; is unlearning. As our organizations seek to grow, we must take the radical risk of intentionally identifying what we need to unlearn when it comes to the narrative, economic and societal structures that unconsciously shape our work.”  

Moving the mission forward 

Courtesy: C2 Photography

Embarking on uncharted territory requires risk, and the thought of the unknown can lead to trepidation before a journey even begins; yet journeys are an inevitable part of learning and growth. Methodist Healthcare Ministries recognizes that its journey is still unfolding, and the path to living out its mission is perpetual. Although systemic inequities have not been eradicated in communities, Methodist Healthcare Ministries remains steadfast in its commitment. Conversations and collaborations lead to new thoughts and action, which is why gatherings like Aspen Ideas: Health are crucial in moving the organization forward. By deconstructing archaic mindsets, refining its strengths, and adopting new strategies bold steps are being taken to advance health equity. Through its commitment, courage, and conviction Methodist Healthcare Ministries is embracing the next part of its journey. 

Capacity Building Series: Learning About Your Board & Growing Board Fundraising Engagement 

When it comes to getting your board engaged in fundraising, it’s important to consider who is on your board and why they’ve joined. Understanding more about your board members, such as why they are inspired to serve on your board, could indicate how they can support your organization’s fundraising strategies. Learning what inspires people, especially board members, can lead to higher engagement and enthusiasm from your board and cultivate stronger partnerships between staff and board members.

Who is in the seat? How to prepare your board to make impactful and meaningful decisions. 

First, let’s think about who is on your board. Boards are unique and have different dynamics—they vary in size, service term requirements, qualifications needed to serve on a board, communication styles, giving and receiving feedback, emotional intelligence, etc. Consider the diversity of your board when it comes to race, ethnicity, gender, age, geography, personal and professional backgrounds, etc. Does the diversity of your board reflect the community your organization serves? How can the diverse perspectives of board members be utilized to further your organizational mission? Could your board be more diverse? If so, how? These can all be helpful questions to reflect on. Diversity can bring a lot of benefit to the table through knowledge, different perspectives, lived and living experiences, connections, and more.

Every organization has different expectations of board members. For example, boards may have policies regarding minimum financial contributions (100% board giving, for example) or not have any policies at all about fundraising. Be up front about your expectations as your organization continues to recruit for new board members. When new board members join your organization’s board, prepare them for success. This could entail providing your board bylaws (if you have them), implementing a service agreement, and most importantly, providing trainings to board members about their roles and duties, fiduciary responsibilities, fundraising expectations, etc. When conducting the trainings, provide as much clarity and consistency as possible to get everyone on the same page. When it comes to fundraising, also keep in mind that board members who come from corporate backgrounds might need a general education about how nonprofits work and how they are different from for-profits. 

It can also be helpful to think about committees on your board. What are the committees, if any? Does your board have a fundraising/development committee? Having committees can help drive focus, action, and progress toward your objectives.

Why do they care? Aligning with your organization’s board 

Devote time and connect with individual board members to understand why they joined the board. Their passion for the organizational mission is what they have in common with you, your staff and other board members; lean into this shared connection. Board members are natural advocates of the organization and its mission, which organically leads them to engage in fundraising efforts. When board members are having conversations with people about something they care about (your organization), it can feel a lot less like work or a hassle, and more like speaking from the heart.

Creating the Foundation

Once you’ve connected with your board members and built strong relationships, it’s time to lay the foundation for your board’s engagement in fundraising. 

Here are some steps you can follow to build that foundation:

  1. Make sure that all members are clear on the board’s fundraising
    responsibilities. 
  2. Develop a fundraising plan for your organization with input from both board and staff. 
  3. Dispel early on any myths or concerns your board members may have about fundraising.
  4. Be clear that asking for money is not the only fundraising task that board members can be involved in. 
  5. Make the fundraising ask easy by thoroughly preparing your board members and providing them with relevant information they can communicate to prospective donors.
  6. Provide your board members with fundraising training/assistance.
  7. Set up a board development committee with orientation & training about board members’ duties, fiduciary responsibilities, fundraising, etc.
  8. Provide each board member with a concrete opportunity to contribute to the organization’s fundraising efforts.

Check out the board vs. staff responsibility checklist in this resource below from Community Change! It could help your organization gain more role clarity between board and staff members. Sources: http://www.campusactivism.org/server-new/uploads/boarvst.pdf and Community Change

You might also want to consider what your policies for board members are when it comes to board member donations/contributions. There are at least two common issues with this type of policy because it can:

  1. Exclude people with fewer financial resources, who might not be able to meet that minimum, from serving on the board.
    1. Limit the amount given by board members who are affluent and may interpret that minimum as the maximum. A board member who may have been prepared to give $10,000 might see a $1,000 minimum and only make the minimum required donation. Source: https://thecharitycfo.com/3-tips-for-successful-board-development/

Remember: your board members are fundraisers, advocates, supporters, and advisors that champion your mission. Given that there is a natural partnership that boards and nonprofit staff can maximize, fundraising is simply an extension of that partnership. Getting your board engaged in fundraising might not always be easy, but it can be as simple as starting there.

Between County Roads – A Reflection on the Health Hardships and Resilient People of South Texas Colonias

 The Rio Grande Valley is a vibrant hub of US-Mexico hospitality. The distinct foods, rich bi-national culture, and remarkable people create an inviting atmosphere where residents and travelers alike feel at home. Towering palm trees span the terrain between Raymondville to Rio Grande City; painting a picture-perfect view across the four counties that comprise the region. However, behind its tropical setting and charming communities, there is a different picture of the Rio Grande Valley some may not always see.

Resilient People, Structural Inequity

Isolated from nearby towns are rural subdivisions referred to as ‘colonias;’ found throughout unincorporated areas along the Texas-Mexico border. Colonias are home to families with mixed immigration status; children may have a United States citizenship, but their parents may not. While their homes vary in size and appearance, families who live in colonias experience similar challenges. A history of insufficient infrastructure and investment have created barriers that impact health and well-being across a variety of conditions. Deteriorating roads make transportation difficult and sometimes impossible. There is a perpetual concern over life-threatening flooding due to a lack of proper drainage systems. As night falls, most colonias are left in the dark with no streetlights to illuminate the area. The lack of adequate living conditions, medical insurance, and nearby healthcare facilities have contributed to further disparities and years of health inequities. Over the years, the number of colonias has grown, especially near border communities like the Rio Grande Valley. As these problems persist, national organizations like Grantmakers in Health are focusing their attention on the resilient people living there.

Informing National Philanthropy

For more than 40 years, the nonprofit organization has been an arm of support to health funders across the country; including Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. This partnership of philanthropy creates access to a plethora of educational resources; including a network of organizations that fund programs improving the health of all people. The Board of Directors for Grantmakers In Health (GIH), travels to different regions across the country annually to gain insight on key issues affecting communities and cultures; they also meet with different organizations and learn about available tools, resources, and share best practices. Oanh Maroney-Omitade—Vice-President for Organizational Excellence at Methodist Healthcare Ministries and GIH board member explained, “for this year’s retreat the GIH Board was interested in seeing and learning first-hand more about the unique healthcare situations and solutions along the US-Mexico Border as it has been a prime topic in news and politics”. This prompted the most recent trip to the Rio Grande Valley which included visits to colonias. 

A Captivating Culture

Some of Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ executive team joined GIH board members on their trip, which began with a stop at the Museum of South Texas History, in Edinburg. Dotted with designs of Spanish-tile and wrought-iron sculptures from local artists; the museum offers a curated picture into the past, with exhibitions and historical artifacts showcased across its campus. Francisco Guajardo, Ph.D. is the museum’s Chief Executive Officer; he welcomed the group and enlightened them with rich stories and facts emblematic of South Texas history and culture. Along with fellow partners, the Knapp Community Care Foundation and the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation; Methodist Healthcare Ministries invited local funded partners to meet with GIH board members. The museum’s hospitality extended into the early evening as thoughts and strategies were exchanged amongst groups. Jennifer Knoulton, Vice President for Community Health & Wellness for Methodist Healthcare Ministries said about the gathering, “We need to challenge, strengthen, and learn from one another – fostering that level of relationship takes time and intention”.

Pillars of Advocacy

As the trip rippled into the next morning, the visiting representatives traveled to the town of San Juan to meet with staff members from La Unión del Pueblo Entero, otherwise known as LUPE. Murals are seen throughout the property, illustrating a journey from oppression to liberation. The organization’s roots were planted by labor rights activist, César Chávez and Dolores Huerta in 1989 with a shared vision of people working together to impact change. Since then, LUPE has grown in their mission to assist working-class and immigrant families; especially those who reside in colonias. LUPE’s Executive Director, Tania A. Chavez Camacho explained how the organization assists people through social services and English classes and extends to fighting deportation and pushing for adequate streetlights and drainage systems in colonias, but the problems remain; something the GIH group was able to witness firsthand.

Off the Paved Path

LUPE staff invited them to tour nearby colonias; the path took them off major highways and onto rural roads not often travelled. In the small town of Donna, make-shift signs point to a way of life for colonia residents. There are no nearby grocery chains or restaurants in sight; instead, a local business simply called ‘The Little Store,’ was bustling with customers getting their breakfast tacos and items for the day. As the group arrived, they were welcomed with warm smiles and curious onlookers outside the Little Store. As the crowd convened around a set of picnic tables, the staff from LUPE introduced a group of women who live within the colonia. They spoke in Spanish and opened up about their day-to-day lives and the hardships they have endured due to the poor conditions outside their doors. One woman pointed to the countless stray dogs roaming the streets and expressed concern over the growing population. Another woman shared her frustration over the lack of nearby parks or playgrounds, and the limitations it creates for children eager to play. Cracks and craters can be found around every corner of the gravel; it is a regular problem for the colonia, but residents are worried it has become a barrier for emergency vehicles. Through local testimonies the GIH group gained a deeper understanding not only of the obstacles colonia residents experience, but of their welcoming and resilient spirits. 

A Collective Hope

The next colonia was just outside the city of Alamo. A muddied road laid out the path to the next destination; a home that sat at the curb of the colonia. The gate to the chain-linked fence was open and a group of colonia residents and LUPE staff welcomed the visitors onto the property. They gathered under a small canopy and were introduced to the homeowner along with her son. She spoke of the obstacles experienced within her community; something the group had become more familiar with during their trip. Despite the living conditions, she maintained a sense of pride in her home. As any good host would, she prepared refreshments for her guests in anticipation of their arrival. The group was also introduced to a young woman and learned of her plans to pursue a college degree, and her mother, whose overwhelming joy brought her to tears. The camaraderie of the colonia was evident as they shared in each other’s hardships, happiness, and dreams for a better future. “What stands out to me is that colonia residents are not in a situation where they need or want someone to ‘save them’. There is pride of place, of homeownership, and these tax-paying community members want spaces where their voices are heard and acted on. The generosity is astounding, and focusing on their unique strengths and assets is essential in addressing the structural barriers within colonias”, said Knoulton.

A New Outlook

Following the tour, the GIH group departed to their respective areas of the country, carrying newfound knowledge and shared experiences. The insights they gained helped to shed light on different perspectives, from people living within colonias. The investment into learning about the Rio Grande Valley will serve GIH in their mission, and benefit communities faced with similar challenges. Methodist Healthcare Ministries is thankful for its valuable partners and their work toward healthier communities. The bonds created during the GIH tour will continue to strengthen as the path toward health equity is paved forward.

The Rio Grande Valley is booming in business and commerce, with no signs of slowing down. For colonia residents, they are a critical part of that economic and communal fabric of hospitality and culture that makes the RGV so unique. Yet, more work lies ahead for health care funders like GIH and community advocates to address the systemic inequities that persist. Each day, colonia residents are met with a unique set of adversities because of where they live and the scarcity of resources. The focus and support from philanthropic organizations is crucial to these communities striving for change. However, colonia residents continue to navigate through the barriers and bridge opportunities that allow them to amplify their voices. Now, it’s time for the listening to turn into deepened layers of support that allow colonia residents to flourish and thrive.

Capacity Building Series: Taking Peer Relationships One Step Further – Tips for Collaborating with Organizations

How to Approach and Build Collaborations

In our last blog, we explored collaborative peer relationships. We shared why and how nonprofits might collaborate with each other—the benefits, reasons, and methods of collaboration. We now want to dive a little deeper into what collaboration could look like for nonprofit organizations. Let’s keep in mind that the goal of collaboration is not always to write a collaborative grant, but it could be, if it’s what might be best for your organization. Sometimes it’s even more beneficial to partner with other organizations—and funders—to seek out more funding and maximize your impact on your community.

“Most funders and nonprofits value working together, and many are looking for ways to improve the quality of their collaborations. Even if some of what we try doesn’t work, deepening relationships with grantees and other stakeholders builds a strong foundation for future efforts. With the right conditioning and enabling environment, we can make progress on effectively partnering with others to achieve meaningful impact.”  Source: https://www.geofunders.org/resources/how-can-we-prepare-for-collaboration-866

 

Here are Some Tips for Collaborating with Organizations:

  1. Tie collaboration into your organization’s goals:
    • Be clear on your goals and how collaborating can help you achieve them.
  2. Determine how you fit into the landscape:
    • Learn more about the subject matter, issues being addressed by the collaboration, other collaborators, and the roles they play.
    • Ask yourself, “What role do we want to play? Where can we add value?”
  3. Lay the groundwork through relationship building:
    • Time to utilize those relationship building skills we discussed in our previous blogs (linked below)! Be intentional about developing trust by showing your flexibility, ability to compromise, and communicating openly about your community’s needs and how a collaboration can make a meaningful impact.
  4. Build a diverse and committed leadership:
    • Having a diverse staff and board that’s representative of your community helps provide a variety of perspectives and connections that can strengthen your network, and therefore your collaborative.
    • Get your staff and board on the same page in prioritizing the collaborative. Make sure they have buy-in and get them involved.
  5. Focus on communication:
    • Communication is key, right? So, communicate often and well—both within and outside of your organization—to ensure everyone is aligned on the vision of the collaborative. Carve out space and time early on for your organizations to get to know each other. Having these connections can make it easier to talk openly about challenges and hold each other accountable.
  6. Provide the resources required:
    • Be mindful of the amount of time and money needed to invest into a collaborative as well as your team’s capacity to focus on it. Remember to secure funding appropriately to help cover the associated costs of a collaborative.
  7. Ensure that collaboration remains a priority:

How to Write a Successful Collaborative Grant (Just One Way to Collaborate!)

Collaboration takes many forms. Building relationships and partnerships might be all that your organization needs. However, if you find that exploring a collaborative grant with fellow organizations might advance your organization’s mission in impacting your community, we would love to provide support. If you’ve never applied for collaborative funding, that’s okay! We’ll break it down in a few steps.

Step one: Identify Partners

You’ll want to begin by identifying other organizations that could be great partners and reach out to them now. Great partners often address the same or similar challenges of your community, have similar mission, vision, values, and goals to yours to make a broader impact. Or maybe they have an entirely different approach to addressing the challenge that compliments and aligns with your organization’s goals.

Establishing trust and getting to know each other’s expertise and available resources takes time. You can think of developing a partnership as an ongoing part of your grantseeking efforts. You can start by appointing a team leader and establishing a workplan and project schedule. You then might assign roles and responsibilities and agree on how you’ll make decisions. It might also be helpful to designate one person to do the writing and have everyone read a draft and suggest edits.

Step Two: Establish Communication and Infrastructure

Although we know that frequent communication is critical, everyone communicates differently. Be sure to discuss communication approaches and ensure a strong infrastructure with tools that all organizations can utilize. There are many types of collaboration tools available online such as:

  • Project management software
  • Document sharing tools
  • Communication tools to stay in touch remotely via messages and video calls
    • e.g. Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Skype
  • Time tracking tools

Step Three: Call on Community

When you’re concerned about a community issue, act. Let the needs of the community be your driving force rather than funding opportunities. Before searching for funders, consider which other organizations you can partner with to address the issue together, leaning on your respective viewpoints, assessing data, and brainstorming possibilities.

Step Four: Talk Money

Discuss money early on. After agreeing on an approach with your collaborative partners, create a budget that details what each partner needs in the collaborative. Without a clear and comprehensive budget being established, a collaborative proposal can fail. Although, remember that a collaborative project budget does not always completely fund an initiative, program, or personnel. This means that organizations who are part of the collaborative might have to seek additional funding to make collaborative efforts monetarily whole.

Step Five: Confront Discord

Confront discord right away and ensure that all partners commit to civil, honest discussion to address the issue. If you are unable to find a solution, strive to maintain ongoing relationships even if a partner organization decides to part ways with the collaborative. However, keep in mind that collaborative relationships are often very fluid and just because a partner needs to bow out doesn’t mean the collaboration is failing. Source: https://www.tgci.com/blog/2020/11/four-more-tips-collaborative-grant-proposals

Hopefully some of these tips and suggestions will help you in your collaborative journey. We know that collaboration can look different from one organization to another based on needs, goals, connections, and resources. Your organization might be newer to collaborative efforts and eager to learn and get started. Maybe your organization is more seasoned and experienced in collaborating with other organizations, or collaborative funding, and ready to dive a little deeper. Perhaps you’re somewhere in between! We can all learn much from each other’s experiences, no matter where we are in our journeys.

So, let’s chat! Tell us below…what has your experience been with collaborating with other organizations? Have you experienced any barriers to collaborating? Would trying a new approach to collaborating help address a barrier? What experiences have you had with collaborative grants? What was that like for your organization? What lessons did you learn?

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Learn more about what Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ Capacity Building team is doing to assist organizations in improving operations and performance through its Capacity Building blog series on mhm.org. If you have any questions, please email us at claurence@mhm.org.

To read previous entries in the Capacity Building blog series, see below:

Capacity Building Series: Relationship Building with Funders (Part I)

Capacity Building Series – Part II: Why Relationships Matter

Capacity Building Series: Building Collaborative Relationships

MHM.org author pics

About the author: Chloé Laurence (she/her)

claurence@mhm.org

With a professional background working in education, mental health counseling spaces, and the nonprofit sector, Chloé serves her community through education, advocacy, and capacity building. She utilizes her love of learning and connecting with people in her work as a Capacity Building Specialist at Methodist Healthcare Ministries to support and empower our funded partners. Her mission is to strengthen our partners’ organizations so they can continue their incredible work building health equity and serving underserved individuals.

Capacity Building Series: Building Collaborative Relationships

Building Collaborative Relationships: Relationship building with peers and other nonprofit organizations

We’re back with our third blog post in this Capacity Building Series! Let’s explore the practice of building collaborative relationships with peers and nonprofit organizations. So, what is collaboration? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, collaboration is the act of working together with other people or organizations to create or achieve something. In short, to collaborate is to create, produce, or achieve together.

You might be asking yourself, why do nonprofits collaborate anyway? How might working with another nonprofit benefit my organization? You might wish to collaborate for three main reasons:

  • to boost organizational efficiency, so your organization can accomplish its work more quickly and with fewer resources. For example,­­­­­­­­­­­­­ nonprofits can work together to create a community resources directory/website. This guide of shared resources helps organizations more efficiently navigate Social Determinants of Health needs for their clients.
  • to increase organizational effectiveness, so your organization can advance its stated mission more successfully. For example, organizations working together to bring new resources to another organization to better meet their mission. This could look like collaborating with organizations that have community counselors who can work with food banks and then food banks bringing services to community mental and behavioral health clinics to care more holistically for clients.
  • to drive broader social and systems change, so when executed successfully, collaborating organizations can collectively strategize to identify solutions that address a social issue in efforts to change systems. For example, a mental health provider, law enforcement, and jail system may collaborate to meet the needs of a person’s crisis mental health needs, diverting them from jails and hospital emergency rooms who are commonly under-resourced to effectively address such needs.

How might nonprofits collaborate with each other? Each partnership between nonprofits will look different depending on the end goal. Nonprofits can work together through cooperation, coordination, and/or collaboration. Let’s look at the 3C Model below that demonstrates the distinguishment between these levels.

Subheading

Source: https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/features/the-sustainable-nonprofit/why-and-how-do-nonprofits-work-together

For a great example of a local group demonstrating collaboration principles, BUILD Health Challenge® (BUILD) 4.0 awardee, Bridges to Care San Antonio (BTCSA), is a collaborative made up of NAMI Greater San Antonio, City of San Antonio Human Services Department, H. E. Butt Foundation, and WestCare Foundation, that is working to bridge the gap in mental health issues for underserved and predominantly Black and Hispanic/Latino communities and create more welcoming, inclusive, supportive, engaged, and resilient communities by collaborating with faith and community-based organizations.

The BUILD Health Challenge® (BUILD) invests in multi-sector, community-centered partnerships and champions the national movement for health equity by moving attention, resources, and action upstream to support health and well-being across the United States. Since 2019, Methodist Healthcare Ministries has been a philanthropic partner of the BUILD Health Challenge. Learn more about Bridges to Care San Antonio (BTCSA) and their work as a BUILD Health Challenge awardee at https://buildhealthchallenge.org/communities/bridges-to-care-san-antonio/.

Check out more resources on collaboration from BUILD Health Challenge® (BUILD):

There are many types of collaboration in the nonprofit space, and it can be difficult to differentiate between them. However, it is important to identify the best type of partnership for your organization and situation, which requires reflection, dialogue, relationship building, and communication. Collaborative efforts can look different for various end goals, can ebb and flow between collaboration types, and can also incorporate multiple types of collaboration all at once.

Let’s take a look at these common types of collaboration, from least formal to most formal:

  • Networks: People connected by relationships, which can take on a variety of forms, both formal and informal.
  • Coalitions: Organizations whose members commit to an agreed-on purpose and shared decision making to influence an external institution or target, while each member organization maintains its own autonomy.
  • Movements: Collective action with a common frame and long-term vision for social change, characterized by grassroots mobilization that works to address a power imbalance.
  • Strategic Alliances: Partnership among organizations working in pursuit of a common goal while maintaining organizational independence. This could mean aligning programs or administrative functions or adopting complementary strategies.
  • Strategic CoFunding: Partnership among organizations that work in pursuit of a common goal. This could mean aligning programs or administrative functions or adopting complementary strategies.
  • PublicPrivate Partnerships: Partnerships formed between government and private sector organizations to deliver specific services or benefits.
  • Collective Impact Initiatives: Long-term commitments by a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.
Source: https://www.geofunders.org/resources/what-are-the-different-ways-to-collaborate-650

So, what has collaboration looked like in your organization (with or without a grant)? We’d love to hear about your experiences with collaboration and what you’ve gained or learned about collaborating with other organizations.

MHM.org author pics

About the author: Chloé Laurence (she/her)

claurence@mhm.org

With a professional background working in education, mental health counseling spaces, and the nonprofit sector, Chloé serves her community through education, advocacy, and capacity building. She utilizes her love of learning and connecting with people in her work as a Capacity Building Specialist at Methodist Healthcare Ministries to support and empower our funded partners. Her mission is to strengthen our partners’ organizations so they can continue their incredible work building health equity and serving underserved individuals.

The Essence of American Heart Month: A Wesley Nurse Perspective

As we close out the month of February, let’s not skip a beat when it comes to our hearts. American Heart Month is a time health workers, advocates, and organizations emphasize the importance of our cardiovascular health. Think of your heart, blood vessels, and blood circulation working together as a system; they all rely on each other.. However, challenges exist for many people across the country.

Between 2017 and 2020, the American Heart Association reported 48.6 percent of United States adults experienced a form of cardiovascular disease or CVD. The term refers to several ailments like high blood pressure, heart failure, coronary artery disease, stroke, and heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). Health conditions, pertaining to obesity, diabetes and blood cholesterol levels can increase the chances of CVD; yet most of the risk comes down to our day-to-day decisions. A poor diet, tobacco use, and lack of exercise are often associated with CVD.

We can mitigate risk factors by making conscious decisions and efforts to improve our health. Put an end to tobacco use, manage your blood sugar, exercise regularly and opt for a balanced diet; think of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.

While it’s critical we focus on making better decisions; we should not forget our spiritual and emotional health. As a Wesley Nurse, I recognize the impact these aspects have on our hearts. The heart is not just a muscle that pumps blood; instead, it’s often considered the place of feelings and thoughts. I urge everyone to listen to their hearts in both the physical and spiritual sense. Some people seek out prayer or meditation, while other may want to talk to a counselor or enjoy time to themselves.

The journey to achieving optimal health will look different for everyone, but it begins by taking the first step. If you are having trouble; let’s talk about it. If you have a solution that could help others; I encourage you to share. American Heart Month may be ending, but it’s never too late to show others, and yourself a little more love.

References

  1. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Heart disease – Symptoms and causes. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353118
  2. American Heart Association. (2024). Heart and Stroke Statistics – 2024 At-A-Glance. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/-/media/PHD-Files-2/Science-News/2/2024-Heart-and-Stroke-Stat-Update/2024-Statistics-At-A-Glance-final_2024.pdf
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). American Heart Month 2024 Toolkits. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/american_heart_month.htm

Capacity Building Series – Part II: Why Relationships Matter

In the first part of this blog, we learned why it is important to build relationships with funders and explored some ideas to help create genuine relationship connections. Now, let’s focus on the many ways an organization can approach funders and initiate engagement.

Approaching a funder in a personalized way to strengthen or establish a relationship can make a big impact and there are many ways you can do so. Consider the following:

  • Call a funder. For example, is a program officer available at the foundation for a call? Have a phone script ready with some sample questions to ask. They can answer any questions you have about the foundation’s giving and/or current grant cycle.
  • Write a letter of introduction/inquiry/interest. A letter to a foundation might be the first impression you make with a funder about your organization. Since these types of letters are often a page or two, the key is to be concise and compelling. Convert your elevator pitch (see below) into written format, telling the funder what your organization does and the outcomes of your organization’s work, sharing an impact story, and how you align with the funder’s aims.
  • Network (Board of Directors, professional associations, foundations). Once you’ve made a list of contacts with whom you want to establish a relationship, look for ways to interact with them. Friend them on LinkedIn and “like” their posts. This will keep you on their minds. Foundation leaders often attend and speak at conferences and seminars. If there is a foundation representative there, try to seek them out or attend their session. Introduce yourself and ask to exchange business cards (yes, business cards are still a thing!). Make sure to follow-up after the event saying it was nice to meet them.
  • Connect on social media. Sharing news on social media – impact stories, client testimonials, upcoming events, etc. – can attract the interest of funders. Also, be sure to follow the social media platforms of current and potential funders. Funders often post about upcoming grant opportunities, share stories about grantees (helpful to determine if you are a funding fit), and highlight issues they care about so you can learn about their funding priorities.
  • Ask for an introduction. When cultivating a relationship, having an introduction can go a long way. Create a list of trustees and staff from the “invitation only” funders you have identified. Share these lists with your organization’s own staff and board members to determine who they might know. Would they make an introduction?
  • Send invitations. Invite a funder for a site visit of your facility with opportunities to see your mission in action, or an upcoming event along with complimentary tickets if you can spare one or two. Review your organization’s programs, events, and offerings at least quarterly to determine which are the most powerful platforms for “friendraising.” Consider your list of foundation contacts and send an invitation to an activity or event you think might be of interest to them—it’s particularly effective coming from someone they know! Ask a board or staff member the funder knows to send the invite with a personal note.

Elevator Pitches

Imagine having only a few precious minutes – or even one minute – with a funder you have been trying to meet.  How do you make a connection with that funder? What do you say? The ability to deliver a strong elevator pitch can be a gamechanger. It’s an opportunity to share your organization’s story in a compelling way. Share your passion. Write a script. An elevator pitch can be used for so many occasions–your letter of interest to a funder, grant applications, fundraising campaigns, phone calls, meetings, etc.

Here are some tips:

  • Utilize storytelling skills to share the impact of your organization – aim for 60 seconds or less.
  • Start with the hook – 10 seconds or less – who you serve, how you help, and what impact you make.
  • The pitch – 30 seconds
  • What differentiates your nonprofit from others in the same space?
  • How effective are your current programs?
  • Do you have a compelling story?
  • How can a prospective funder get involved right now?
  • What do you plan to accomplish in the near and distant future?
  • The wrap up – 20 seconds – “the ask”/what outcome are you seeking?

Remember, this is just a general guide – consider adapting your elevator pitch to meet the moment. It should sound natural so be sure to practice! Start by practicing with friends first, get their feedback, and practice as often as you can. Practice will help build your confidence and improve your flow and pace, allowing you to sound more natural and compelling.

Maintaining the Relationship

Now let’s keep that momentum going. Once you’ve approached the funder, the relationship building has only just begun! Cultivating, building, and maintaining your relationship with a funder can not only increase your chances of getting the grant, but also help the funder feel appreciated and valued as you stay connected after receiving the grant.

Remember, relationship building with a funder often begins when seeking a grant but doesn’t end there. It should continue throughout the inquiry and application process and even after being awarded a grant or not.

After Being Awarded the Grant:

  • Most importantly, express your gratitude! Send funders thank you emails, handwritten notes or cards, or even give them a call just to say thank you.
  • Be transparent. Maintain honest and open communication with your funder. Share your organization’s needs and challenges—being vulnerable and sharing wins as well as pain points will allow the funder to get a better sense of what your organization needs from their support.
  • Connect with funder staff and board—remember, they’re passionate about the work, too!
    • Ask if they’d like to be added to your email list to stay updated on big developments.  
    • Get more personalized and offer information and updates on your organization’s programs and projects during one-on-one time via phone, mail, email, etc.
    • Utilize social media networks to continue to engage and stay connected. You can use LinkedIn to see if anyone in your network is connected with key foundation program officers. If so, ask if they can give you an introduction.
  • Get creative! Try some of the following approaches:
    • Share stories of lives changed and impacts made—storytelling is a strong way to connect, show appreciation, and strengthen a relationship. 
    • Invite them for a site visit tour and/or to events.
    • Call to ask for advice.

If You Did Not Get a Grant Award:

  • First of all, don’t be discouraged. Most funders receive far more proposals than they can support.
  • Thank the funder. Express your gratitude for the funder reviewing your proposal.
  • Seek feedback about your proposal. It can be extremely helpful to see what strengths and weaknesses the funder noted in your application. Important to note: some funders/foundations will let you know in their application guidelines if they are able to provide any feedback.
  • If you remain interested in the funder, keep in touch, and follow their social media platforms.
  • Try again. Yes, reapply when eligible. If you were able to obtain feedback about your previous proposal, incorporate that feedback into your proposal.

As we’ve discussed in this two-part blog, successful grant seeking can include much more than submitting a proposal or application. Building a relationship with funders is foundational and key to helping your organization secure funding and support your mission.

Now you can apply some of these relationship building principles and practices to your grant seeking efforts. We hope these strategies and tips help you and your organization.

Discussion (You can leave a comment below to continue the conversastion.)

  • Which types of funders has your organization connected with and how? Are there types of funders you want to reach out to, and which ones? Has networking been on your radar and how has that been for your organization?
  • What approaches have you used to reach prospective funders?
  • What were some challenges you have faced when trying to connect or maintain a relationship with a funder? How did you overcome them? Has anyone had similar experiences with these challenges/methods and have other solutions in mind?
  • How does your organization maintain relationships with funders?
  • For those organizations working in rural areas, what are your experiences/approaches? Frustrations?

*In Part 3 of this blog series, we will explore the practice of building collaborative relationships with peers and nonprofit organizations.

Click here to read Part 1 of this blog series, Building Realtionships with Funders. 

MHM.org author pics

About the author: Chloé Laurence (she/her)

claurence@mhm.org

With a professional background working in education, mental health counseling spaces, and the nonprofit sector, Chloé serves her community through education, advocacy, and capacity building. She utilizes her love of learning and connecting with people in her work as a Capacity Building Specialist at Methodist Healthcare Ministries to support and empower our funded partners. Her mission is to strengthen our partners’ organizations so they can continue their incredible work building health equity and serving underserved individuals.

Funded Partner Spotlight: Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA).

Since 1995, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. has provided over $1.4 billion to improve the well-being of the least served through its clinics, programs, and strategic partnerships. Methodist Healthcare Ministries is proud to partner with organizations that share similar missions and organizational objectives of increasing access to care for uninsured and economically disadvantaged individuals and families across South Texas.  

The Rio Grande Valley’s diverse and binational population is at a crossroads. With over 2.67 million residents in the area, the region surpasses both San Antonio and Austin in population. Despite being one of the largest urban areas in Texas there is a lack of a centralized municipal government which means that resources allocated to the area are often divided among dozens of cities across the region. During the COVID-19 Pandemic this decentralization was even more evident as the unemployment rate in the region increased to 17.3%, far exceeding the statewide rate of 13%, according to the Texas Tribune. However, since 2020 the unemployment rate in the area has dropped to 5.2% in Hidalgo County (the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area) and 4.9% in Cameron County (Brownsville-Harlingen) as of October 2023, according to USA Today.

Part of the effort that is driving this success is the work of the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA). The organization promotes workforce development programs and provides  skilled unemployed or underemployed individuals with connections to employers looking for various types of skilled labor.

 Established in 1995 by Valley Interfaith and industry leaders, VIDA addresses the disconnect between Rio Grande Valley residents and employer demand for skilled labor by providing comprehensive workforce training that better equips program participants to pursue a more gainful means of employment.

For the first time, Methodist Healthcare Ministries (MHM) is partnering with VIDA to address health equity and the social determinants of health (SDOH). One of these priority areas includes education and workforce development, which overlap with VIDA’s mission and vision.

As an MHM partner receiving 2023 grant dollars, VIDA recently received a capacity building grant of $60,000 to hire a Development Director.  The Development Director will strengthen and cultivate new partnerships as well as identify new sources of funding to support the organization and its programs.

“VIDA was developed as a workforce development intermediary where to help industries fill those jobs that were in high demand evolving with technological advances and at the same time give residents of our region more opportunity to upskill and achieve economic mobility,” said Felida Villarreal, President and CEO of VIDA.

Today, VIDA builds institutional relationships in the Rio Grande Valley that links employers to unemployed and/or underemployed residents and uses these relationships to create necessary support services for their students such as career guidance, intensive case management and financial assistance.

“VIDA offers a variety of wraparound student support services that vary from student to student because it’s very customized to the individual’s needs,” Villareal said. “We can provide anything from tuition, tools, transportation or childcare assistance as well as financial assistance for anything they may need in their career journey to ensure program persistence and completion.”

Prior to joining the program participants typically earned $8 an hour but graduates earn an average annual salary of $47,756. VIDA is opening doors to better employment opportunities that include higher salaries, access to employer sponsored healthcare insurance and established career paths with room for growth.

“That drastic change and being able to achieve that economic prosperity, has a tremendous impact on their lives and that of their families,” Villarreal said. “There’s just no limit to the potential and professional growth from that point on. We’ve even seen some of our graduates become successful business owners.”

According to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, the Rio Grande Valley is currently experiencing a shortage of 6,000 nurses across the region which puts further strain on existing medical staff and their ability to serve patients. In response to this, VIDA recently made national headlines as one of 25 organizations across the nation to be awarded the $3 million Nursing Expansion Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. This will be key in providing services for students pursuing careers in the medical field and alleviating the shortage of nurses in the area.

“We’re truly grateful for the opportunity to be selected as a MHM grant recipient,” said Villarreal “We’ve already expanded our fundraising division and are seeking additional opportunities to grow our programs, serve more students and provide additional services to our community.”

Learn more about VIDA and their programs through their website: https://www.vidacareers.org/

Capacity Building Series: Relationship Building with Funders (Part I)

Why do relationships with funders matter? Consider these facts:

  • Charitable giving reached a record high in 2020 with $471 billion donated to nonprofits. Foundations contributed $88.5 billion (Giving USA).
  • More than 1.6 million nonprofits are registered in U.S. (Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics 2000).
  • There are an estimated 115,000 foundations in the U.S. (Candid 2018).

So, what can a nonprofit do to stand out while also getting to know funders? In short, having a genuine connection with a funder can break through the competition. The goal is to build authentic relationships. At Methodist Healthcare Ministries, we know through experience that relationships built on false narratives, or projections of how you want others to perceive you instead of who you really are, won’t last. However, making connections by focusing on and prioritizing relationships and trust can help a funder get to know you. Remember, growing relationships is like any other organic process—they need tending on a regular basis.

Creating a Return on Relationship: Importance and Benefits of Relationship Building with Funders

You’re probably familiar with the term “Return on Investment” or ROI. What about ROR (Return on Relationship)? Ted Rubin, a social marketing strategist, trademarked the concept of Return on Relationship. Think about relationship building in terms of a Return on Relationship—there is value accrued due to nurturing a relationship. Relationships inherently are not financial assets; relationships are priceless.

Here are some ideas for increasing your Return on Relationship with funders:

Move beyond only being in a transactional mode with funders. Transactional actions can include questions about grant applications, grant guidelines, grant reports, etc. Instead, think of funders as allies. Funders want their current and prospective partners to succeed. So, find funder allies and then listen carefully to their suggestions regarding your partnership to get the most out of the financial support provided and, perhaps, support beyond the check such as capacity building services. Funders often have expertise, insight, and social capital you can use to be more successful. Many nonprofits and grantees miss out on useful opportunities because they are solely focused on just getting the money versus building a relationship.

Be transformative. Strive to interact in a transformative mode with funders. Being transformative is dynamic. It’s your organization engaging outside of the grant cycle time period. It’s storytelling – your organization’s current events, future plans, and outcomes; sharing ideas or ways to be more strategic. It’s important to set realistic expectations of how much time funders can spend with a partner or prospective partner, so keep balance in mind.

Initiate engagement. Be proactive and seek out funders. This is especially important when it comes to rural grant seeking & philanthropic deserts; funders likely won’t find you. You have to find them!  Some resources to help with rural grantseeking:

Seek peer advice. Don’t forget your peer organizations in your relationship building strategy with funders. Search a foundation’s list of recent grant recipients. If a peer organization has recently received funding, reach out to ask how they established the connection. While grant seeking is competitive, your peer organizations will understand that foundations often have diverse funding interests and will trust you to build a relationship based on your organization’s unique programs and services. Incorporate the tips and feedback you receive from your peers into your cultivation strategy.

Understanding the “Foundation” of Foundations

Understanding Foundations

What is a community foundation?

⇢ What is a private foundation?

What is a corporate foundation?

Source: insidephilanthropy.com

Once you know the different types of foundations–Community,
Private, Operating, and Corporate–you can then research how foundations operate and discover their “why” and/or purpose. Knowing this information can help you vet foundations and grant opportunities more appropriately. In your vetting process, look for alignment with organization type, programs, and services that have been funded. Research the typical grant award; grant periods (one year or multi-year); criteria for funding; funding restrictions; timelines; grant guidelines and application process, etc.

A community foundation is a grantmaker that serves a specific community or region. Distinct from a private foundation, which is usually funded by a single individual, family or corporation, a community foundation is a public charity that is funded by many donors and governed by a board that reflects the community it serves. Examples: San Antonio Area Foundation, Coastal Bend Community Foundation, and Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country.

A private foundation is a non-governmental agency who might be an individual or family that establishes a private foundation to give money (and sometimes other resources) to nonprofits engaged in charitable activities. Examples: Meadows Foundation, Nancy Smith Hurd Foundation, and Anderson Charitable Foundation.

A corporate foundation is a private foundation whose money is contributed by a for-profit business. Think Home Depot or State Farm.

An operating foundation is a private foundation that provides public programming and services and charitable funding. Examples: St. David’s Foundation and Episcopal Health Foundation.

Be curiousFunders who don’t accept unsolicited proposals? Consider and approach funders who don’t accept unsolicited applications if they are a good funding fit for your organization’s work and mission. Many of these foundations are willing to consider new applicants but are using other methods to learn about potential partners to limit the number of proposals they have to review. Your organization deserves to be considered. Don’t dismiss a prospect just because you have read that they do not accept unsolicited proposals, especially if it fits your organization’s work and mission. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Don’t tell yourself no by assuming they’ll tell you no. If it’s a no, then let them tell you no. 

Source: https://help.candid.org/s/article/applications-not-accepted

Look at the funder’s grant awards from the last several years to see its giving trends. The funder could be a good prospect if the funder awards grants to different organizations from year to year, has a similar funding priority to your organization’s mission, and makes grants in your geographic region. However, if a funder makes grants to the same organizations year after year, you might consider looking at other funders instead.

Source: https://help.candid.org/s/article/applications-not-accepted

*In Part 2 of this blog, we will focus on a multitude of ways your organization can approach funders, initiate engagement, and maintain relationships with funders.

MHM.org author pics

About the author: Chloé Laurence (she/her)

claurence@mhm.org

With a professional background working in education, mental health counseling spaces, and the nonprofit sector, Chloé serves her community through education, advocacy, and capacity building. She utilizes her love of learning and connecting with people in her work as a Capacity Building Specialist at Methodist Healthcare Ministries to support and empower our funded partners. Her mission is to strengthen our partners’ organizations so they can continue their incredible work building health equity and serving underserved individuals.

November 2023 Calendar of Events – WHWC

Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ Wesley Health & Wellness team offers a wide variety of programs and classes designed for every skill level! All classes are free and open to the public. Registration is required, call (210) 922-6922 to register.

Click here to download a copy of our Wesley Health & Wellness Center – Calendar of Events for November 2023.

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Español

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Early Voting Begins in Texas

Early voting in Texas begins today, October 23, for fourteen amendments to the Texas constitution. Each one is the result of legislation passed during the 88th Texas Legislature earlier this year.

Methodist Healthcare Ministries advocated for several of the propositions on the ballot. They positively impact nonmedical drivers of health, improving the health of Texans and the patients we serve.

Proposition 2  Childcare facilities

This amendment allows cities and counties to provide a property tax exemption for childcare providers if a minimum of 20% of their students receive subsidized childcare services. The exemption must be at least 50% of the property’s appraised value and does not apply to school district taxes or home-based childcare providers who have already received a homestead exemption.

Proposition 4 – Property taxes / school funding

This amendment lowers school district property taxes. Specifically, the amendment:

  • Increases the amount of homestead exemptions from $40,000 to $100,000.
  • Releases an additional $7.1 billion appropriated to school districts during the 88thTexas Legislature to lower property tax rates.
  • Imposes a temporary 20% cap on increases in the taxable value of appraisals for commercial, mineral and residential properties that do not receive a homestead exemption and are worth less than $5 million. The cap expires in 2026.
  • Expands the pool of business that do not pay the state franchise tax.
  • Allows voters to elect three members to the local appraisal district board of directors. (The members are currently appointed).

Proposition 6 – Texas Water Fund

The 88th Texas Legislature created the Texas Water Development Board to oversee projects throughout the state recognizing clean water is essential for healthy communities. This amendment creates a fund within the state treasury, endowed with $1 billion to begin to address the state’s significant water issues.

  • A minimum of 25% of the fund is dedicated to the New Water Supply Fund for Texas, supporting projects to increase the state’s water supply from nontraditional sources such as saltwater desalination.
  • The remaining 75% is for the Texas Water Fund which aids in infrastructure repairs, obtaining new water sources, mitigating water loss at existing facilities and ensuring future water availability.

Proposition 8 – Broadband infrastructure fund

The Texas Broadband Development Office estimates 3 million Texas households do not have broadband internet connections and an additional 5 million households have unreliable connections. Most live in rural areas. The amendment provides $1.5 billion to develop and finance broadband, telecommunication and 911 services as well as provide matching funds for federal grants from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program.

Proposition 10 – Medical and biomedical products 

This amendment exempts biomedical equipment and inventory when calculating a facility’s appraised value for property tax purposes. All taxing entities are included (city, county, school districts and special taxing districts) in the exemption. The rationale for giving the exemption is more manufacturers will choose to locate their business in Texas with a more favorable tax situation.

For more information about any amendments on the ballot, including arguments for and against each amendment, visit the nonpartisan voter guides published by The Texas Tribune or the League of Women Voters.

Everyone is encouraged to exercise their right to vote. Early voting runs through Friday, November 3. Election Day is Tuesday, November 7. To find your polling location and hours, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s website.

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Jaime Wesoloski

President & Chief Executive Officer

Jaime Wesolowski is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Methodist Healthcare Ministries. A healthcare executive with three decades of leadership experience, Jaime is responsible for the overall governance and direction of Methodist Healthcare Ministries. Jaime earned his Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from Xavier University, and his Bachelor’s of Science from Indiana University in Healthcare Administration. As a cancer survivor, Jaime is a staunch supporter of the American Cancer Society. He serves as Chair of the American Cancer Society’s South Texas Area board of directors and he was appointed as Chair to the recently created South Region Advisory Cabinet, covering eight states from Arizona through Alabama. Jaime believes his personal experience as a cancer survivor has given him more defined insight and compassion to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients and their families.