(JOHNSTOWN, Pa.) – Today the 1889 Foundation and the United Way of the Laurel Highlands (UWLH) announced a challenge grant that will provide up to $500,000 in 1889 Foundation funds to increase the reach and impact of the United Way’s Community Impact grants.
“The 1889 Foundation is a strong believer of the positive impact being made by our United Way and how they measure and report their results,” said Jim Hargreaves, board chair of the 1889 Foundation. “This matching gift will encourage Cambria and Somerset County residents and businesses to give to the United Way as they continue their annual fundraising campaign, because it will provide a dollar-for-dollar match up to $500,000 for all future contributions.”

This is the first announcement of the grant disbursement process for the 1889 Foundation, which was formerly the Conemaugh Health Foundation. Since 1993, the foundation had served as the fundraising arm of the non-profit Conemaugh Health System and its hospitals. With Conemaugh’s sale to a for-profit entity, Duke LifePoint Healthcare, the foundation was required to become independent, and has spent most of 2015 restructuring as the 1889 Foundation. Its new mission reads, “To support innovative programs and initiatives that improve and transform the overall health and wellness of our region.” The foundation will be focusing its future funding efforts on major grants that will affect positive, long-term change in the population health of our region.

“We are honored to be working with the 1889 Foundation, and take seriously the responsibility of using the challenge grant funding wisely to create the greatest positive impact we can,” said Mike Artim, board chair of the UWLH. “This gift represents an opportunity to dramatically increase the impact of the Community Impact grants.”

Community Impact grants are distributed annually to high-performing non-profit organizations in Cambria and Somerset Counties, and are awarded by a volunteer-driven committee and review panels. The application process requires recipients to explain programs, methods, desired outcomes, and how results will be measured. Site visits are a requirement as well. Currently, 30 programs delivered by 25 partner agencies are supported through United Way.

Historically, large grants of $50,000-$200,000 have been given to organizations providing evidence-based programming that addresses social change initiatives in three main areas: preparing all children socially, emotionally, and academically for kindergarten; increasing parental knowledge of child development and care; and preventing youth drug and alcohol use. Smaller grants of $5,000-$50,000 have supported additional programming in health and human services. The 1889 Foundation matching gift of $500,000 will significantly increase the impact and the reach of all of these programs.

“By collaborating with the United Way, we’re able to use their well-developed Community Needs Assessment and Community Impact awards process, which has critical evaluation and process
improvement components that are in line with our mission,” said Susan Mann, president of the 1889 Foundation. “Our goal with this contribution is to support local non-profits who have proven results in meeting the health and wellness needs of our community.”

The UWLH’s annual campaign, which is chaired by Craig Saylor of Somerset Hospital, kicked off on September 17 and will run through February 12, 2016. The campaign goal, which was originally set at $1.1 million, has been revised to $1.6 million in light of the 1889 Foundation matching gift.

“Last year, Community Impact grants enabled us to help 40,216 people,” said Bill McKinney, president of UWLH. “But this generous matching grant from the 1889 Foundation will enable us to reach even more people, and bring about the social changes we need at a much faster pace.”

The 1889 Foundation has made a three-year commitment to provide this challenge grant through the UWLH, and the exact amount will be determined each year. Because of the increase in funding, the UWLH plans to evaluate the need to expand programming over the next year.

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