On July 29, 2010, the APTS Grant Center hosted a conference call to discuss health funding opportunities. APTS Director of Government Relations Will Glasscock told participants that while funding opportunities from the recent federal health care bill are still being determined, APTS will be advocating for public television on Capitol Hill. Amie Miller, Foundation Development Advisor at DEI, explained that among foundations in 2008, health was the top giving area by share of grant dollars. Health programs received just shy of 23 percent of all foundation dollars in 2008. In 2009, the Gates Foundation, alone, gave $3 billion to health projects. Public broadcasting stations should note that health funding from most foundations supports projects and programs, not operational costs and many funding opportunities include a promotion and prevention component in their priorities. Many heath conversion foundations have been created recently as a result of a nonprofit organization becoming for-profit (because of a merger, for example). When this happens, all of the nonprofit's assets must be dedicated to charitable giving, which creates significant funding opportunities. There is a list of health conversion foundations on the Grant Center website.
Julie Schmidt, Senior Director of External Affairs at Kentucky Educational Television (KET), and Susan Zepeda, Executive Director of Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, described their partnership and health work in Kentucky. Because health is a serious concern for the state of Kentucky, KET and Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky are implementing a program that intends to encourage healthier habits among Kentuckians. Currently, they have a statewide broadcast, school-based services, websites and more. Originally, the two organizations developed a shared vision for a project: a 13-part KET production featuring health models from around the state. As they continued to build upon their relationship and create programmatic priorities, they created a strategic partnership, not just a typical grantee/grantor relationship. Communication is essential to this partnership, and both organizations have benefited from leveraging their combined resources. They have combined networks and relationships and are now more robust than they would be if they were on their own. Julie and Susan reminded participants that foundations can offer more than just money. Even if there is not funding available, the conversation shouldn't end there. A foundation can provide connections to other people and organizations that may lead to partnerships and even funding down the road.
Nancy Dobbs, General Manager at KRCB Public Television in Sonoma, CA, and Ellen Bauer, Health Action Program Manager at the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, discussed their Sonoma Health Action partnership. The partnership began when the Sonoma County Department of Health Services helped to underwrite the showing of Unnatural Causes on KRCB. After that, the two organizations decided to produce a half-hour program called Unnatural Causes in the North Bay that highlights local health issues. Continuing their locally-focused project, KRCB and the Sonoma County Department of Health Services have created a vision and goal and identified 10 subject areas in which they want to work. They have grassroots projects: a walking campaign and campaigns to eat and grow local, healthy food, and they also have larger, systems projects. Additionally, they have a healthy students initiative and a worksite wellness program. You can read more about these programs on the Sonoma County Health Action website. Together, KCRB and the Sonoma County Department of Health created very short production pieces that they use to promote their programs whenever possible, and they have also produced a six-minute piece that community organizers use in Sonoma County to frame the issue and ignite the conversation. Nancy and Ellen reminded participants to seek out partners. Public broadcasting stations do not always come to mind as viable partners, but often, the mission of public broadcasting stations overlaps with the mission of many other local organizations. Specifically, Nancy said that labor unions are often very interested in health initiatives.
Sam Fuqua, Station Manager at KGNU in Boulder and Denver, CO, described KGNU's partnership with University of Colorado's Integrated Nutrition Education Program (INEP). Their program, Eat Your Radio, funded by the Colorado Health Foundation, combines journalism and nutrition and teaches Denver elementary school students about becoming journalists while they learn about healthy eating habits. This partnership is more informal; the two organizations applied for separate grants and then closely coordinated their work. Sam reminded call participants that even small stations should apply for funding and create local partnerships. Because his station is small, Sam wrote the grant proposal and is responsible for its administration, but he has hired contract trainers and producers to help implement the grant. Sam said he has learned from this project that when working with schools, individual school buy-in will vary but is really important.
One conference call participant asked a question about how to measure success in health programs. Susan Zepeda explained that for her project, there is an outside evaluation firm that interviews key policy stakeholders to see if the program is on their radar and also monitors local media to see if the program has gotten any attention. Nancy Dobbs and Ellen Bauer explained that for their project they measure health indicators in the county and aim to reach the 2020 targets that they set for the project.
All of the featured speakers agreed that it is important for public broadcasting stations to begin a dialogue and forge a relationship with local health departments. They all emphasized that good relationships are the key to good programs and to receiving funding. Public broadcasting stations should approach local health departments with an information-finding objective. The goal should not necessarily be to immediately create a specific project or to receive a certain amount of funding. Instead, the two organizations should discuss how they can be beneficial to each other and what goals and objectives they have in common.
To contact your local health department, click here. To contact your state health department, click here. To contact your state-based Primary Care Association, which represent health centers and other health care providers who care for uninsured and low income patients, click here. Contact the staff person with the title most relevant to your initiative and be patient. Often it takes a little while to be connected to the right person, but it's worth it to get the ear of someone who can be a community health partner.