SAN ANTONIO—Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio began with a clear sense of mission—make grants to meet healthcare needs in eight South Texas counties. Four years and more than $15.8 million later, 236 organizations in the region have benefited from what the foundation’s board always has seen as “God’s money.”
When Vanguard—a for-profit hospital system based in Nashville, Tenn.—bought Baptist Health System of San Antonio, the deal included a provision that proceeds from the sale establish a nonprofit entity to help serve healthcare needs in South Texas.
Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio had its clearly defined purpose, but its board of directors had to start building the organization before a blueprint was drawn.
Plowing new ground
“We didn’t really have other foundations that we could look to that we wanted to duplicate. In a sense, we were plowing new ground,” said Marilynn Elliott, chair of the board since its inception. “The models that were out there were doing things different in some respects than we wanted to do them.”
Elliott, who completes her term and hands over the reigns of board leadership to Kenneth Andrews at the end of December, noted the board began with simple goals—get started on a solid footing and create a “solid foundation for the foundation.”
The board developed a committee structure and grant-making process, and it hired Frank Elston as the foundation’s president and chief executive officer.
In its first year, the foundation granted a little more than $3.6 million. This year, the foundation distributed more than $4.29 million.
In 2008, the Baptist Health System School of Health Professions received $532,583 for 459 scholarships. The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio received $280,000 for a community-based diabetes risk-reduction project, $250,000 for early intervention programs to help youth with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and $172,500 for 46 healthcare scholarships.
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Baptist Child & Family Services also was a major beneficiary in 2008, receiving $240,000 for its community medical response team project and $25,000 for special-needs shelters for victims of Hurricane Ike.
Church-based healthcare ministries—such as the Volunteers in Medicine project at Oakwood Baptist Church in New Braunfels and the international outreach education and healthcare program of First Baptist Church in San Antonio’s Yes Lord Ministry —also benefited from foundation grants.
“Leveraging grants has been a high priority of the foundation, and Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio’s $15.8 million have generated more than $40 million in additional support to recipients,” Elston noted.
From the beginning, the board has seen its task as a sacred responsibility and the foundation’s work as ministry, said Elliott, a longtime member of First Baptist Church in San Antonio.
“God gave us a responsibility to administer his money on his behalf in this area,” she said.
As Elliott hands off the leadership to a new chair, she remains confident the board will continue to see its work as a divine calling.
“I hope the board will continue to be on the lookout for ways to use God’s money in the most effective ways they can to make a difference in this area,” she said.