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Endowment Announces $53M In Grants; Funding Of New Health Workforce Project

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Dec 18, 2023
The Health Care Talent Collaboration, a partnership of local organizations, is slated to receive $22.3 million over the next several years from the New Hanover Community Endowment, the largest sum of this year’s grant cycle.
 
Related to the endowment grant, Novant Health pledged $10 million toward increasing the number of trained health care workers in the region at a press conference Monday following the endowment announcement. 

The endowment plans to give more than $53 million over the next three years to the health care collaboration and other organizations, officials announced Monday. The bulk of that funding will be for renewing “strategic grants” but also includes $1.4 million in nonrenewing “responsive grants,” according to a news release. Over 200 applications were submitted for grants totaling about $336 million in requests, endowment officials said.

In comparison, the endowment's inaugural grant cycle totaled $9 million last year as it was ramping up.

The sale of the county-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health in 2021 created a more than $1 billion endowment from the bulk of the sale proceeds. The latest round of grants is the second in the endowment’s history.

The more than $22 million is split between the Health Care Talent Collaboration’s organizers, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Cape Fear Community College, New Hanover County Schools and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Foundation. UNCW and CFCC will receive most of the sum with about $10 million slotted for each. The money comes from the endowment’s strategic grants, meaning they are multi-year commitments. 

The Health Care Talent Collaboration is intended to bolster the area’s health care workforce by focusing on the recruitment, training and retention of skilled health care professionals in New Hanover County, according to the endowment’s news release announcing the grants.
 
The health care collaborative has been a year in the making, said Wilmington chamber president and CEO Natalie English at the chamber’s press conference on Monday.
 
The chamber will act as a “convener” between CFCC, UNCW and NHCS, English said. CFCC pledges to increase the capacity of nursing programs through enrollment growth; UNCW pledges to develop new clinical degree programs through specialized facility development; and NHCS pledges to expand  Paxton/Patterson labs, which expose students to high-demand medical careers.
 
“Some of the key parts of this program are,” English said, “better coordinated simulating learning advancements, health care innovation, standardized exam support, student success services, integrated data tracking, interprofessional collaboration, strengthening the foundation in K-12 and then innovative investments.”

The endowment's release cited projections from the Cecil G. Sheps Center’s Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy the project that by 2033, North Carolina could face shortages of about 12,500 registered nurses and 5,000 licensed practical nurses. 
 
CFCC president Jim Morton and UNCW chancellor Aswani Volety both said at Monday’s press conference that the schools would make an increased effort to recruit local students in hopes of more graduates staying in the area after college. English said the collaborative wants to make the region “sticky” to the trained health care professionals coming out of the new programs.
 
“So we have a vision for what might be cohort housing or what is definitely cohort programming,” English said.
 
She added that housing for nursing and health care students is one idea for the Health Care Talent Collaboration, but more conversations need to be had about what the region’s housing looks like on a broader scale.
 
Amy Akers, chief nursing officer for Novant Health’s coastal market, said the health system has committed to investing $10 million over five years to increase the number of trained health care workers in Southeastern North Carolina.
 
“Novant Health plans to invest $5 million over the next five years for student scholarships to advance their career to health care and apply their skills and service to our community,” she said. “These scholarships will provide financial stability to existing and future team members enrolled in programs at both Cape Fear Community College and UNCW.
 
“Novant Health will grow the availability of nurse preceptors that act as teachers to nursing students while they’re on clinical rotations within the health care setting,” she added. “We’re also going to add to our simulation capability for those students.”
 
Also at Monday’s press conference, endowment president and CEO William Buster addressed why there were no housing grants included in the most recent grant cycle.
 
“Just this morning, we have convened all of the housing leaders in the community,” Buster said. “We took an intentional approach to not fund housing in this particular grant cycle because as we looked at all the proposals, we saw bits and pieces of things that probably needed to be woven together a little bit better.”

The endowment plans to make additional commitments in 2024 and 2025, said board chair Bill Cameron.

Buster spoke about the endowment’s focus Thursday at the Greater Wilmington Business Journal’s Power Breakfast before the grant recipients and the health care collaboration was announced. Click here to watch his talk.

Buster also will answer more questions about the approach to this year’s grantmaking on Tuesday during a BizTalk interview with the Business Journal. That Q&A will be livestreamed on the Business Journal’s Facebook page at 10:30 a.m. and can be watched here.

OTHER GRANT ANNOUNCEMENTS
Over the next three years strategic grants are expected to be distributed to the following:
  • Cape Fear College Foundation, $5.5 million 
  • YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina, $4 million
  • New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office, $3.4 million, and Jo Ann Carter Harrelson Center Inc., $1.6 million, for the creation of a Community Justice Center housed at The Harrelson Center
  • Communities In Schools (CIS), $3.2 million
  • Spark Academy, $3.3 million
  • YWCA of Lower Cape Fear, $2.8 million
  • MedNorth Health Center, $2 million
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern North Carolina, $1.6 million 
  • Cape Fear Clinic, $1.2 million
  • DREAMS Center for Arts Education, $795,774
  • SmartStart of New Hanover County, $658,596
  • Union Missionary Baptist Church, $450,000
  • NorishNC, $450,000
  • El Cuerpo/Christ Community Church, $200,000
The endowment will also grant a total of $1.4 million in one-time grants to the following: 
  • Northside Food Cooperative, $249,715
  • YWCA of Lower Cape Fear Inc., $200,000
  • Seeds of Healing Inc., $140,267
  • Blue Ribbon Commission Prevention of Youth Violence dba Voyage, $112,200
  • Kids Making It Inc., $103,420
  • Legal Aid of North Carolina Inc., $100,000
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington, $87,000
  • Elderhaus, $75,000
  • Child Development Center, $65,500
  • Eden Village of Wilmington, $55,000
  • Lower Cape Fear Hospice Inc. dba Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, $50,000
  • Cape Fear Literacy Council, $46,000
  • St Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church, $40,000
  • American Red Cross, $38,000
Click here to read the project descriptions for recipients that were awarded grants. 

Correction: This story has been updated to correct that YWCA of Lower Cape Fear will receive $2.8 million in strategic grant money and $200,000 in a one-time grant in the list above.

Correction: Because of updated information from endowment officials, the story has been updated to correct that the grant for Spark Academy is just for that organization.
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