Highmark Foundation Grant Guidelines

The Highmark Foundation awards high-impact grants to nonprofit organizations to spearhead programs aimed at improving community health in the communities served by Highmark, Inc, its subsidiaries and affiliates.

Who Is Eligible?

The Foundation approaches grantmaking proactively and utilizes research to identify areas of need in which Foundation funding will make a profound difference.

After an area of need is identified, grantmaking is performed primarily through Invited Proposals or Requests for Proposal (RFP).

The Foundation limits its grantmaking to nonprofit organizations that are defined as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and as public charities under section 509 (a) of the code.

What Is the Foundation's Grantmaking Focus?

The Foundation awards grants in the area of health, defining health broadly to include social, behavioral and other dimensions beyond illness or disease. The Foundation focuses its grantmaking on four areas:

Ideally, the Foundation seeks evidence-based programs that impact multiple counties, that achieve replicable long-term models, and that attract collaborative funding by community partners.

What Kinds of Organizations and Programs Have Been Awarded Funding?

Foundation grants have been awarded to hospitals, community health centers, health service organizations, local community groups and government agencies committed to improving community health. Programs at various stages of development are eligible for Foundation support, including demonstrations, pilot projects, model programs, expansion plans and well-established initiatives.

What Kinds of Organizations or Programs Are Ineligible for Foundation Funding?

Foundation grants are not awarded for lobbying or political campaign activities. In addition, the Foundation generally does not award grants for capital campaigns, annual fund-raising campaigns, deficit funding, endowments, event sponsorships, clinical research, scholarships, routine operational costs, overhead costs or direct financial subsidy of health services to individuals or groups.

How Do the Invited Proposals Work?

Invited Proposals target specific audiences and activities identified by the Foundation. Unlike Requests for Proposals (RFPs), these offers involve the participation of a specific entity and may represent a longer-term commitment from both the grant recipient and the Foundation. All phases of the project must be acceptable to the Foundation prior to funding, including estimated costs, timelines and expected results.

How Do the RFPs (Requests for Proposals) Work?

The Foundation will periodically issue an RFP related to specific health challenges. Organizations with demonstrated capacity or evidence of strong potential to meet those challenges are invited to respond to an RFP. A grant or grants will be awarded based upon a competitive analysis of the proposals submitted. Grants will be awarded to the applicants deemed most responsive to the specific RFP requirements.

How Are Proposals Submitted?

Proposals should only be submitted using the online grant application.

What Are the Specific Criteria Used by the Foundation in Awarding Grants?

The grantmaking process involves evaluating a program based on whether or not it:

  • Conforms to the Foundation's goals, strategies and focus.
  • Establishes broad and strong community impact.
  • Creates models with potential application throughout communities served by Highmark Inc, its subsidiaries and affiliates.
  • Demonstrates new and sustainable ways to solve health problems.
  • Reduces long-term cost or duplication of services and resources.
  • Incorporates sound programmatic methods and evaluations as building blocks for long-term program success.
  • Illustrates the effectiveness of early intervention and preventive health programs.
  • Stimulates the efficient use of scarce health resources through cooperative planning and program initiatives while encouraging cross-sector collaborations between and among health care institutions, schools and other organizations.
  • Improves and assures access to quality health care for underserved populations in both urban and rural areas.
  • Advances the health equity agenda.
  • Seeks creative ways to leverage the Foundation's budget, which is limited because health care challenges are too numerous and complex to be addressed by a single foundation.

What Information Should Be Included in a Grant Proposal?

To respond to an invited proposal, the following information is required.

  • The history and mission of the organization.
  • A brief statement of the problem.
  • A description of the proposed project, including its importance, its objectives, its target population(s), qualifications of staff, its impact on the community, project start/completion date and a timeline.
  • A statement of how the project fits into other work being done in the community, region and/or field.
  • A description of what constitutes success and how the organization plans to measure it.
  • A description of how the program outcomes will be communicated to relevant audiences.
  • The requested amount of funding, an itemized budget of the overall project and an indication of other prospective funding sources.
  • General information, including contact person and telephone number.
  • A copy of the organization's IRS letter of tax-exempt status.

When Are Grant Proposals Reviewed?

The Foundation's board of directors generally meets quarterly (March, June, September and December) to review proposals. A Foundation committee conducts an in-depth review process on a quarterly basis. Once a grant is approved, additional information, including a site visit, may be required.

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