Catholic Health Foundation to announce annual grant winners
BRAINTREE -- When Caritas Christi Health Care was sold in 2010, it gave rise to something new: the Catholic Health Foundation, which distributes grants to dozens of local healthcare organizations each year.
The Catholic Health Foundation (CHF) was formed out of endowments left to the Caritas hospitals prior to their sale. Overseen by the Catholic Community Fund, the CHF provides financial support to nonprofit organizations in the Archdiocese of Boston that provide healthcare services consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
The annual grants are distributed for different categories of healthcare, including not only medical services but also bereavement, building and equipment, cancer research and treatment, education, and social needs.
Since its inception, the CHF has awarded over 500 grants, totaling over $6 million. Unlike some other foundations, the size of each grant is flexible. The total amount distributed in a given year has ranged from a high $900,000 and a low point of $200,000 during the coronavirus pandemic.
The open grant process usually starts in January and closes in March, with grantees announced in late spring. This year, the CHF received 110 grant applications, a 10 percent increase from last year, and were able to distribute over $700,000. The final decisions were approved at a June 12 board meeting and were to be announced to grant recipients on June 30.
The applications were reviewed by CHF and Boston Catholic Development Services staff members and representatives from Catholic Schools and Parish Services offices.
The largest demographic of applicants this year were schools and parishes, according to Lynne Sullivan, executive director of the Catholic Community Fund. She said the top area of need they saw this year was mental health. Other top areas included nursing care, facilities and equipment, and addressing food insecurity.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of grant applicants increased while available funds decreased. Since then, the CHF has also seen more requests for funding for nurses in schools.
"I think the schools realized that it wasn't just a luxury to have a nurse, it was a necessity," Sullivan said.
The pandemic also seems to have brought greater attention and clarity to the importance of mental health. Sullivan said she thinks people have a misconception that "mental health" is the same as "mental illness," when it is really part of overall wellness.
Over the course of the year, Sullivan tries to meet each of the grant recipients personally. She expressed a hope of convening grantees so they have an opportunity to network and learn from each other.
"Something that I think people considered tragic and sad, when the hospitals were sold, has turned into something very positive and actually has created some great support in ways that we may not have been able to have done before," she said.
More information about the grants can be found at chfboston.org.