A year ago, St. David’s Foundation published a story on our “New Year resolutions” for 2019. As promised, we want to share the progress we’ve made towards increasing our community engagement and improving our processes and systems.
We have spent the year focused on strengthening our relationship with the community and our grant partners. In last year’s post we mentioned our excitement around the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). Through the CHNA process, we heard directly from community members who are impacted by our work. The insights from our neighbors are invaluable to the Foundation and we are grateful to all who participated in the process.
We are continuing our efforts to understand and support the community at large in the year to come; this time with the Central Texas 2020 Get Out the Count Campaign. The Foundation is one of many funders collaborating to make sure that every individual in our region is counted in the 2020 U.S. Census. An accurate count has implications for how much federal funding is distributed to programs that provide services like housing, education, food, transportation, and healthcare to Central Texans. You can read more about our role and importance of the count in our most recent story.
Speaking of St. David’s stories, we’ve been sharing more than ever about our experiences in the community and our learning along the way. On the Foundation’s website you’ll find our new The 411 newsletter highlighting some of the important work the Foundation is involved with.
Throughout the year, the Foundation has been working to ensure applicants and grant partners are supported through opportunities for learning and streamlined processes.
The Foundation has increasingly used Requests for Proposals (RFPs) as a means to make space for innovation and learning. Over the past year, we released three RFPs: Central Texas Home Visiting: A Good Start is a Healthy Start (Childhood Adversity), Parks with Purpose: Parks for Health & Equity (Opportunities to be Active), and Connecting Generations, Strengthening Communities (Aging in Place). The RFP process helps the Foundation capture a diverse set of ideas from a range of organizations working towards a common outcome. This creates a natural opportunity for learning across organizations as they test approaches on related problems. In order to foster collective learning, the foundation has begun to take a more active role in convening learning communities related to these funding opportunities. We plan to share more about how our approach to learning communities has evolved in early 2020.
On a more technical side, fulfilling a promise we made last year, our internal process changes have improved the timeliness of grant payments. Our improved payment tracking system has led to a ten-fold increase in the number of payments made before the start date of grant projects.
While the progress is promising, we know there is still work to be done in years to come. We will continue to refine our payment system so that all grant partners receive their checks and contracts on time.
Additionally, we have been working throughout the year on a new metrics web tool. While we hoped to launch the improved tool in 2019, we faced technical hurdles that slowed down our progress. The new interface, with fewer headache-producing glitches, will be launched in 2020.
We are happy to celebrate the progress we’ve made over 2019, and we look forward to continued learning and improvements in 2020.