Large grant to fund health project



July 2, 2015 - 12:00 AM

Thrive Allen County continues to gather steam toward its goal of making Allen County one of the healthiest counties in Kansas.
The Kansas Health Foundation — in partnership with the Washington D.C.-based Center for Global Policy Solutions — has awarded the non-profit a $250,000 “Community Engagement Initiative” grant.
According to KHF, the grant — the second largest in Thrive’s history — is intended to “support resident-led efforts to improve health.
“Recognizing that communities — and the local organizations that serve them — are best positioned to identify and respond to their unique health challenges, [this initiative] was created to build the capacity of these local organizations to identify and address community health needs.”
According to Thrive’s program director Damaris Kunkler, “This means that, with this grant, we will be going out into the community and asking the people directly, ‘What do you need? What is it that we can help you do to make Allen County a healthier place?’’’
Along with grant writer John Robertson, whose golden pen has secured for the group and for the county a host of grants in recent years, Kunkler was essential in helping to arrange the three-year grant and has assumed in the program’s earliest days a lead role.
The Kansas Health Foundation, along with Global Policy Solutions, explained Kunkler, eyeballed more than 300 non-profits in their statewide search for fit recipients of the CEI grant, and they entertained grant applications from more than 40 counties. In the end, though, they selected only five organizations; groups — according to the foundation’s website — “that have previously demonstrated success supporting resident created and led community health improvement strategies [and] policies….”
Of the beneficiaries — based in Wichita, Kansas City, Topeka and Hutchinson — Thrive is the only truly rural organization on the list.
“I have spent three years here working on ‘healthy eating, active living’ programs,” said Kunkler. “But, now, I really want to get out there and have these conversations in the community. It’s why I feel so passionate about this project.”
Kunkler plans to host the first two-day community forum Aug. 10-11 (location details and times will be announced in the coming days). The purpose of the meeting, again, said Kunkler, is to “identify what kind of positive health project or program we would like to implement in the county.”
Thrive aims to reach all four corners of Allen County, said Kunkler, and the invitation to participate in the project is extended to all of its residents.

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