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32 organizations in Santa Clara, San Mateo counties win awards

Thirty-two non-profit organizations that serve children and youth in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties will share $2.1 million from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, which announced its inaugural awards today, Jan. 11.

Foundation President and CEO Stephen Peeps announced the awards, the first in what will be a program of twice-yearly grants. Next year’s awards are expected to reach $4.5 million over the two cycles. “We are eager to emerge as a new grantmaker wholly focused on the health of our community’s children,” Peeps said. “While the need for this focus is hidden for most of us, it is very real for the tens of thousands of underserved kids in our midst.”

The initial grants provide funding in two areas: protecting children ages 0 to 5 from injury, with an emphasis on preventing child abuse and neglect; and promoting behavioral, mental and emotional health in pre-teens.

Recipients range from large collaboratives, such as the Cornerstone Project of Santa Clara County, to small agencies, such as San Jose’s Korean American Community Services. The grants run from $36,000 to $300,000, over one, two or three years. Forty-three proposals were invited; 32 were funded, five denied and the remainder deferred.

Most of the grants went to community-based organizations, but grantees also include schools and collaboratives with government agencies as partners. The grants are divided equally between the two counties, with two-thirds of the initial funds going to the pre-teen grants and the balance to the 0-5 age group.

Akemi Flynn, director of the Cornerstone Project, said, “Our mission is to motivate and empower all individuals and organizations to come together to nurture and develop competent, caring and responsible children and youth. The grant from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health will allow us to move from a call to action to taking action on behalf of our middle schoolers.”

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health was established as an independent charity with a $64.5 million endowment in 1996, when the previously independent Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital became part of Stanford University Medical Center. Funding for the grants comes from the endowment.

The foundation’s mission is “to fund efforts that promote, protect and sustain the physical, mental, emotional and behavioral health of children,” Peeps said. “Our board recognized the importance of defining health in terms broader than just the physical.”

Richard T. Schlosberg, president and chief executive officer of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, said, “We recognize the need for a philanthropic partner concerned exclusively with the health of the area’s children. While our two foundations are wholly independent of one another, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation shares this area of concern. Children’s health was, of course, Lucile Packard’s passion. We think the new foundation’s focus is critical, and we are – and will be – fully supportive of its efforts.

A focus on prevention
Foundation staff and board members spent 15 months determining how best to distribute the initial grant money, reviewing public data and consulting with community members and local and national experts on children’s health.

“We wanted to be sure to include a broad range of perspectives in identifying important issues regarding children’s health,” said board member Martha “Marty” Campbell, who chaired the grants committee that developed the criteria and reviewed the grant applications. “As we designed our program we would check with community members, make changes, and go back again for their reactions,” said Campbell, who is director of evaluation and program director at The James Irvine Foundation.

“Our foundation is new to the philanthropic scene and we don’t pretend to be experts,” Peeps said. “But we have taken the time to study the issues, and we saw tremendous need. We learned that most children in the two counties are born healthy, and their subsequent health is threatened more by behavior and their environments than by disease.”

Almost 650,000 children live in the two counties, and more than a third of them are under age 5. Twelve percent of all children in the two counties live at or below the Federal Poverty Level, a number that would at least double if adjusted for the Bay Area cost-of-living, Peeps said. An estimated 8,000 children are homeless.

Santa Clara County received reports of almost 20,000 incidents of child abuse and neglect in 1999. County data for 1997 show that among middle school students 52 percent had drunk alcohol; 33 percent had smoked cigarettes; 10 percent had had sexual intercourse; 9 percent had attempted suicide; and 17 percent had carried a gun.

In San Mateo County, 6,294 cases of child abuse and neglect were reported in fiscal year 1998-99. In that same year, an estimated 5,300 children witnessed domestic violence in the home.

“Most of these problems result from behavior toward or by children and thus to some extent could be prevented,” Peeps said. “So the foundation elected to focus its grants upstream on prevention rather than on medical intervention or treatment.

“Obviously, many expert organizations are working on these issues,” he said. “We thought the best use of our resources would be to establish partnerships, to help bring together agencies working on the same concerns and support their efforts.”

Although many age ranges and health issues could have been chosen as the foundation’s original grant-making focus, the grants committee decided that ages 0-5 and 9-13 presented particularly strong opportunities to prevent damage to children’s health at key stages of development.

“The youngest children are highly vulnerable to the behavior of adults,” said Sharon Keating Beauregard, the foundation’s director of programs and grants. “In the formative pre-teen years, which are often overlooked, a child’s or peer’s behaviors can put health or even life at risk. These two areas were where we thought we could have a strong impact,” she said.

Foundation has other roles
In addition to these new grants, the foundation also makes occasional awards to the Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital for programs that benefit patients and families but are not reimbursed through insurance programs.

“The hospital is committed to healing the whole child, and it recognizes the impact of illness on family and patient alike,” Peeps said. “Yet critical services such as interpreters, recreation therapy and spiritual support are always vulnerable to elimination in difficult economic times. We hope to make sure they are always there.”

Another primary function of the foundation is to raise money for the hospital’s medical programs and for pediatric research and training at Stanford Medical School.

A third key project, currently in the planning stages, is a permanent information and education program to heighten public awareness about children’s health issues.

The foundation’s vision is “to make Santa Clara and San Mateo counties the healthiest places in the country for children to be born, to live and to grow,” Peeps said.

“That’s an ambitious undertaking,” he said, “but in this region we have a prosperous economic base, a state-of-the-art children’s hospital that is part of a leading university medical center, many deeply committed agencies and organizations and, now, a foundation focusing wholly on children’s health.

“If that kind of vision can be realized anywhere, it should be here.”