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For 20 years, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. (MHM) has brought care to communities across South Texas through medical, dental, behavioral health, and faith-community nursing programs and services, as well as through strategic grant-making. An unprecedented partnership with the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is enabling MHM to have even greater impact on the health and well-being of individuals and families in South Texas.

In 2014, the SIF awarded MHM $10 million for the first 2 years of a five-year grant to support its “Sí Texas: Social Innovation for a Healthy South Texas Initiative” (Sí Texas Project), which brings together subgrantees across 12 South Texas counties to identify strategies that improve health outcomes in communities with high rates of poverty, obesity, diabetes, and depression. The project focuses largely on the treatment of chronic disease and related behavioral health conditions, but subgrantee projects will also complement other regional prevention efforts through a collective impact framework.

The first cohort of subgrantees taking part in the Sí Texas Project consists of:

  • Lower Rio Grande Valley Community Health Management Corp, Inc. (El Milagro Clinic), Hidalgo County;
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), Hidalgo County;
  • Tropical Texas Behavioral Health, Cameron County;
  • Community Hope Projects, Inc. (Hope Family Health Center), Hidalgo, Starr, Willacy, and Cameron Counties;
  • Mercy Ministries of Laredo, Webb County;
  • Texas A&M International University (TAMIU), Webb County; and
  • Rural Economic Assistance League (REAL), Brooks, Duval, Jim Wells, Kenedy, and Kleberg Counties. 

In August, MHM awarded funds to Nuestra Clinica del Valle and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston as part of its second cohort of Sí Texas Project subgrantees, bringing the total subgrantee investment up to $13 million.

The SIF grant represents a first for both MHM and the SIF: MHM is the first faith-based organization to receive SIF funding, and the SIF grant was the first federal grant MHM received after a recent rethinking of its funding strategy.

In its two decades of service, MHM’s single source of revenue was generated from its co-ownership of the Methodist Healthcare System, the largest healthcare system in South Texas. In 2013, however, the organization adopted a strategic initiative to broaden its funding base, which prompted MHM to apply for SIF funding.

According to Rebecca D. Brune, MHM’s senior vice president for strategic planning and growth, a partnership with the SIF seemed the most natural for MHM and had the promise to effect real change.

“SIF support was pivotal for MHM, but transformational for South Texas,” Brune said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to do catalytic philanthropy for systems and community change.”

According to Brune, the most exciting aspect of the partnership with the SIF is the evaluation of the integrated behavioral health models the Sí Texas Project will fund and the promising solutions that can be replicated and scaled nationally for lasting impact.

MHM brings to its SIF project substantial expertise and experience in health-focused grantmaking. The organization is the largest private source for healthcare services for the uninsured in South Texas, providing more than $600 million in healthcare services through its own operations and through strategic grantmaking to nonprofit partners since its inception.

“This year, MHM has provided $25.2 million in community grants to nearly 90 nonprofit partners across South Texas,” Brune said. “We have a solid track record as a grantmaker and sound practices in managing subgrantees that are complementary to the SIF’s funding model.”

Although a new SIF grantee, MHM has already made substantial progress in building systems and processes to meet the SIF’s requirements and to support its subgrantees, notes MHM’s SIF project manager, Stephanie McClain. Early achievements McClain highlights include MHM’s:

  • Hiring team members with experience living and working in the communities served, which facilitates relationship-building and communication with stakeholders and more effective training and technical assistance support for subgrantees;
  • Collaboration between Sí Texas program staff and MHM finance, human resources, and contracts staff to integrate best practices throughout the organization;
  • Utilizing the SIF reporting requirements to share project information with the MHM board and community stakeholders; and
  • Developing the subgrantee application and reporting requirements in partnership with match funders so that the SIF, MHM, and match funders can utilize these reports and reduce the reporting burden on subgrantees.

These activities will also help MHM grow and enhance its grantmaking generally.

“We are very intentional about communicating with our funded partners and creating the space to learn from one another,” said MHM’s Brune. “The relationship with SIF has really underscored how invaluable that is, not just in terms of managing our SIF grant, but as a grantmaker in general. This is a way for us to pursue a larger vision with all of us working together. ”

More information about MHM’s SIF project can be found online.