Michigan Health Endowment Fund awards nearly $15M to health initiatives across the state

The awards are going to 40 projects through grants ranging from $136,000 to $500,000 as part of two Health Fund programs: Behavioral Health and Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyles.
Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 3:43 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - The Michigan Health Endowment Fund (Health Fund) will support dozens of Michigan organizations with over $14.6 million in new investments. The awards are going to 40 projects through grants ranging from $136,000 to $500,000 as part of two Health Fund programs: Behavioral Health and Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyles. (A full list of grant recipients can be found at the bottom of this story.)

In the Behavioral Health program, selected proposals included various projects that streamline, knit together, and integrate care delivery systems. By building coordination between behavioral health and other health and social service providers, expanding the use of technology, and advancing innovative care delivery models, these projects are laying the groundwork for more robust behavioral health systems throughout the state.

“It’s critical that we continue to support school-based mental health access and help children who have experienced trauma—in addition to expanding the use of technology,” said Program Director Becky Cienki. “These projects will improve integration and expand access to care for some of Michigan’s most vulnerable populations.”

Some of the populations at the forefront of 2020 Behavioral Health initiatives: school-aged children and older adults facing mental health challenges, mothers with substance use disorder (SUD), and Upper Peninsula residents who lack access to adequate behavioral healthcare.

Some organizations, like the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan, are strengthening telehealth services, allowing more patients to access care from their homes. They’ll be developing a telehealth resource center for Michigan mental health practitioners to act as a hub for telehealth information, guidance, and technical assistance.

Other initiatives, such as the Western U.P. Health Department’s “Positive Steps Together” program, provide more direct, on-the-ground assistance. That program will be employing a peer recovery coach to offer support and resources to women who have been diagnosed with substance use disorder or are at risk of developing it.

The Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyles awards feature a common effort to combat food insecurity in underserved populations and build cultures of health within communities. Selected organizations are providing support for Michigan residents of all kinds—young and old, rural and urban, providers and patients.

“Every Michigander deserves access to healthy food and physical activity,” said Program Director Laurie Solotorow. “These organizations are bringing their innovative work to every corner of the state in order to make that aspiration a reality.”

The selected projects are diverse in both the issues they are taking on and their methods in doing so. While some organizations are elevating access to healthy fruits and vegetables, others are working to educate on the benefits of breastfeeding, promote healthy play, and reduce rates of chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes.

In one notable initiative, Access of West Michigan will be redesigning the charitable food system for low-income residents across West Michigan. Their new farming model and innovative nonprofit food access sites will increase affordability and availability of healthy produce for thousands of Michigan residents.

In another project, Michigan State University is partnering with the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, the Midwest Tribal Epidemiology Center, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in the Native American community. The group will develop resources for community indigenous breastfeeding counselors and local healthcare providers to increase awareness of the positive health impacts of breastfeeding.


Family Medical Center of MI

  • Growing School-Based Healthcare While Training New Providers | $500,000
  • To improve access to behavioral health and primary care services among low-income, underserved school-aged children and adolescents in Detroit and rural areas of southeast Michigan, using a mixed model of school-based and telehealth services delivery, while training the next generation of primary care physicians and psychiatric nurse practitioners.
  • (Area served: Lenawee, Monroe, and areas of Wayne County)

Grand Valley State University

  • Thrive: Integrated Behavioral Health and Primary Care | $499,936
  • To improve the overall health and well-being for socioeconomically disadvantaged, medically underserved, high-risk adults by addressing the unmet mental health needs of this vulnerable population.
  • (Area served: Grand Rapids)

Greater Flint Health Coalition

  • Peer Recovery Support System for Addiction Treatment Project | $499,785
  • To use a multi-sector approach supporting timely transitions to care between hospitals, treatment providers, and community settings while addressing the upstream social determinant of health needs of patients.
  • (Area served: Genesee County)

Haven of Rest Ministries

  • Women's Life Recovery Program | $400,000
  • To address the significant challenges mothers face in accessing and sustaining long-term residential substance abuse treatment and recovery by creating overnight residence availability for both mother and child.
  • (Area served: Calhoun County)

Kids Kicking Cancer

  • The Healing Hero | $500,000
  • To develop an interactive mobile phone application to help young adults with substance use disorders involved in Drug Courts realign thinking from “victim” to “life-changing purpose” and increase retention in treatment for addiction.
  • (Area served: Statewide)

Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency

  • System for Sustainable Youth Services in Schools (SSYSS) | $500,000
  • To enhance the connection between community partners in order to improve the behavioral health of students while reducing financial costs and stigmas associated with seeking and participating in mental health services.
  • (Area served: Alger, Delta, Dickinson, Iron, Marquette, Menominee, and Schoolcraft Counties)

Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards (dba Community Mental Health Association of Michigan)

  • Telehealth Resource Center - Behavioral Health | $257,905
  • To develop a Telehealth Resource Center for Michigan Mental Health Practitioners, a telehealth information, guidance, and technical assistance hub.
  • (Area served: Statewide)

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

  • Improving Care for Justice Involved Patients Part 2 |  $500,000
  • To allow jails and external payers and providers to share and integrate treatment information for justice-involved individuals through a data portal, leading to more effective collaboration, improved care coordination, and increased jail safety. 
  • (Area served: Statewide)

Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association

  • Building Health Communities: Step Up for School Wellness | $500,000
  • To help Michigan schools more effectively address the health and emotional needs of their students and staff by integrating the Social and Emotional Learning training from the Michigan Model for Health curriculum into the Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness (BHC: SUFSW) program.
  • (Area served: Statewide)

Michigan State Medical Society

  • Connecting Treatment Courts and Health Professionals | $175,000
  • To strengthen the collaboration and connectivity of the medical field and the judiciary in treating individuals with substance use disorders (SUD), and to increase access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), related counseling, and other supports.
  • (Area served: Alger, Antrim, Baraga, Benzie, Charlevoix, Chippewa, Clare, Delta, Dickinson, Emmet, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Iron, Isabella, Kalkaska, Keweenaw, Leelanau, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette, Menominee, Oakland, Ontonagon, Schoolcraft, and Wayne Counties)

Northern Michigan University

  • Collaborative Network: Behavioral Health Access in UP | $498,445
  • To improve access to behavioral health services in the Upper Peninsula by increasing the number of applied behavioral analytic professional and paraprofessional service providers, through an online training program and a hybrid telehealth and face-to-face comprehensive applied behavior analytic service.
  • (Area served: Upper Peninsula)

Oakland Integrated Healthcare Network

  • Oakland County School-Based Behavioral Health Strategy | $200,000
  • To create a coordinated strategy across Oakland County school districts to provide access for behavioral health services for students, including a comprehensive needs assessment.
  • (Area served: Oakland County)

The Regents of the University of Michigan

  • Online Behavioral Health Training for Community Workers | $160,000
  • To leverage the capacity of an existing state-community-university partnership team in order to develop and deploy digital behavioral health training modules, with a specific focus on older adults, designed for lay community health workers.
  • (Area served: Statewide)

The Regents of the University of Michigan

  • Trauma-Informed Programs & Practices for Schools | $328,324
  • To co-develop, refine, and scale a flexible, manualized curriculum and set of training materials to support the uptake and sustainability of trauma-informed practices for schools throughout the state of Michigan.
  • (Area served: Van Buren Intermediate School District, Statewide)

Wayne State University

  • Promoting Resilience among Maltreated Young Children | $499,778
  • To support workforce training in infant mental health for dependency court staff by transitioning content to an online, self-paced, replicable format.
  • (Area served: Wayne and Isabella Counties)

Western Michigan University

  • Building Resiliency in Substance Abusing Families (BRISA) | $499,958
  • To create an integrated family model that addresses parental substance use and the underlying trauma-related causes while simultaneously building familial resiliency.
  • (Area served: Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties)

Western U.P. Health Department

"Positive Steps Together" SUD Support Program | $159,590

To reduce stigma and remove barriers to treatment by employing a peer recovery coach to work directly with women in public health programs.(Area served: Baraga, Gogebic, and Houghton Counties)


Access of West Michigan   

  • Re-centering Health Through Small Ag | $190,000
  • To address the lack of healthy, affordable, Michigan-grown produce available to low-income residents across West Michigan by redesigning the charitable food system and piloting a new farming model that will re-center the supply chain to focus on low-income communities.
  • (Area served: Kent County)

American Heart Association          

  • Target: BP-Growing and Extending | $250,000
  • To expand the EmPowered Clinicians program to ten FQHCs, addressing health inequities for older adults in Michigan rural and urban communities using evidence-based initiatives to improve hypertension control rates.
  • (Area served: Statewide)

Care Free Medical    Capital Area Prescription for Health | $136,000

  • Project Title: Capital Area Prescription for Health
  • To address the adverse health outcomes caused by childhood food insecurity by strengthening connections between communities, local clinics, farmers' markets, grocery stores, transportation systems, and health educators through a fresh food pipeline.
  • (Area served: Ingham County)

CATCH Global Foundation 

  • CATCH Michigan Planning Grant | $154,550
  • To create behavioral changes among children and increase their daily physical activity by expanding CATCH programming across the state.
  • (Area served: Statewide)

Communities in Schools of Michigan       

  • Integrated Nutrition Supports | $500,000
  • To address health disparities and encourage students in 46 schools across Michigan to make healthy choices.
  • (Area served: Alcona Community Schools, Battle Creek Public Schools, Benton Harbor Area Schools, Central Lake Public Schools, Dearborn City School District, Detroit City School District, Forest Area Community Schools, Kalkaska Public Schools, Mancelona)

District Health Department #10 (Renewal)

  • Northwest Michigan Chronic Disease Prevention: Partnership for Prescription for Health | $250,000
  • To address the high rates of chronic disease in rural communities due to unhealthy lifestyles and limited access to fruits and vegetables.
  • (Area served: Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Missaukee, Newaygo, Oceana, and Wexford Counties)

Food Bank Council of Michigan    

  • A Sustainable Food Pharmacy Model for Michigan | $476,934
  • To create a replicable, sustainable model for Michigan FQHCs to integrate food prescription programs into their slate of comprehensive services.
  • (Area served: Branch County, Calhoun County, Eaton County)

Henry Ford Health System 

  • Henry’s Groceries for Kids | $499,985
  • To improve child health outcomes and reduce food insecurity by integrating food delivery and nutrition education in pediatric care delivery.
  • (Area served: Wayne County)

Henry Ford Health System 

  • Optimizing Gestational Weight Gain | $255,042
  • To educate pregnant women on recommended weight gain during pregnancy, using evidence-based strategies and a new digital health application to promote healthy eating and physical activity.
  • (Area served: Detroit Metro Prosperity Region)

Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities (Renewal)         

  • FQHCs and LAHC Building Health Communities Together | $245,063
  • To prevent and reduce childhood obesity by teaching young children healthy habits and reinforcing those healthy habits by working with parents and caregivers.
  • (Area served: Wayne County)

Michigan State University  

  • Impact of Pediatric Prescriptions for Fruits and Vegetables | $500,000
  • To evaluate an existing pediatric fruit and vegetable prescription program in Flint in order to understand the efficacy and long-term impacts of the program and inform future policy development to fund and sustain produce prescription programs.
  • (Area served: Genesee County)

Michigan State University  

  • Native American Breastfeeding Initiative Embracing Culture | $338,406
  • To increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in the Native American community through resources that increase awareness of the positive health impacts of breastfeeding.
  • (Area served: Statewide)

Michigan State University  

  • Successful Nutrition Programs Across the Lifespan: A Roadmap | $499,645
  • To address malnutrition, equity, and food insecurity by creating a roadmap and web-based facilitation guide for communities to address deficiencies and inequities in nutrition and healthy lifestyle options for residents of all ages.
  • (Area served: Capital Area and Northwest Michigan)

National Kidney Foundation of Michigan 

  • HALTing Diabetes with Innovation and Collaboration | $499,999
  • To reduce health disparities and to address the absence of a statewide, sustainable infrastructure for a virtual Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) delivery that focuses on serving older adults and adults eligible for Medicaid.
  • (Area served: Statewide)

Playworks Education Energized    

  • Growing Safe and Healthy Play for Michigan: Part II | $500,000
  • To support access to safe and healthy play every day at school in order to positively impact a child’s physical, social, and emotional development.
  • (Area served: Statewide)

ProMedica Bixby Hospital  

  • ProMedica Farms Improved Access to Healthy Food and Lifestyles | $406,220
  • To align nutrition and healthy lifestyles programming and reduce the overweight and obesity incidence in Lenawee County through a sustainable, reliable network of initiatives and support.
  • (Area served: Lenawee County)

Spectrum Health Foundation         

Family Kitchen Rx 2.0 | $499,879

To create a digital platform to deliver culturally-inspired culinary medicine programs for families in Kent County.

(Area served: Kent County)

The Regents of the University of Michigan          

  • Maximizing Reach of the InPACT program in Michigan Schools | $198,351
  • To proactively develop a Teacher Technical Assistance Package that provides teachers working in low-resource schools with the knowledge, skills, confidence, and program adaptations to get kids moving and ready to learn.
  • (Area served: Saginaw County)

United Way of Southeastern Michigan     

  • Better with Breakfast Oakland County | $461,736
  • To expand a pilot program to increase participation in school breakfast programs in Oakland County, meeting students’ nutritional needs. 
  • (Area served: Oakland County)

Wayne State University       

  • Physical Literacy and Nutrition Education Program | $500,000
  • To promote health equity and accessibility issues for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families by increasing participation in physical activity, improving nutrition behaviors and meal practices, and stimulating greater engagement in social services, advocacy, and social support networks.
  • (Area served: Wayne County)


CATCH Global Foundation (Community Health Impact Program)

  • CATCH Restart Smart: Health Education in the COVID-19 Era | $98,000
  • To help schools maintain or boost delivery of physical education and health education curriculum in virtual learning or socially-distant in-person learning environments.
  • (Area served: Muskegon County)

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (Healthy Aging Program)

  • Improving Access to Information & Services for Older Adults in Response to COVID-19 | $314,251
  • To improve access and coordination of services with the aim of reducing social isolation among older adults, using technology to help them connect them to loved ones, attend virtual appointments, understand their COVID-19 risk level, and access agencies and resources.
  • (Area served: Statewide)

Michigan Public Health Institute (Special Projects & Emerging Ideas Program)

  • Just Care | $130,000
  • To address racial biases amongst healthcare practitioners and racism as a root cause of inequity using a train-the-trainer approach in the Henry Ford Health System.
  • (Area served: Wayne County)

About the Health Fund: The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works to improve the health and wellness of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of healthcare, with a special focus on children and older adults. The foundation has five annual grant programs. For more information about the Health Fund and its grant making, visit mihealthfund.org

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