DMC Foundation Making A Difference In The Health Of Metro Detroiters

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mike Gallagher, Correspondent

Marking its first full year of grantmaking since it affiliated with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), the DMC Foundation is a great example of how one grantmaker is making a significant difference in promoting the health and well-being of the people of metropolitan Detroit.

“The impact on the lives of many Detroit area residents, thanks to various DMC Foundation grants for health care, has just been incredible,” said Dr. Sonia Hassan, Associate Dean for Maternal, Perinatal and Child Health at Wayne State University (WSU) School of Medicine and Director of the Center for Advanced Obstetrical Care and Research with the National Institute of Health’s Perinatology Research Branch (PRB), housed at WSU and the Detroit Medical Center.

Formerly known as the Health & Wellness Foundation, the DMC Foundation was created in 2010 to receive part of the charitable assets from the Detroit Medical Center following its sale to Vanguard Health Systems.

In 2013, the DMC Foundation affiliated with and became a supporting organization of CFSEM to benefit from CFSEM’s long-time expertise in grantmaking and investment support, and ability to understand and achieve improved operational efficiencies.

“The impact the DMC Foundation can have on our city and beyond is exceptional,” said Mariam C. Noland, CFSEM president. “It has been operational with us for several years now and the programs and services it is now funding are experiencing substantial success.”

Grantmaking priorities of the DMC Foundation include:

  • Supporting health and medical research, education, and community benefit activities relating to health outcomes
  • Facilitating the provision of medical, health care and disease-prevention services
  • Improving health in the community
  • Leveraging public and private resources

DMC Foundation Achievements

As an example of the impact of DMC grants during the past year, Dr. Hassan pointed out a program she heads called “Make Your Date” that combines prenatal care, outreach strategies and information and provides them to Detroit area mothers to help them carry their babies to full term.

DMC Foundation provided $100,000 to pilot a city-wide strategy and evidence-based interventions to address this issue.

“Detroit has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation,” noted Dr. Hassan, “so the problem here is acute. Pre-term births cost lives and contribute to a host of major health issues such as breathing complications, cerebral palsy and difficulty in school.

“The DMC Foundation grant is helping us to share information, increase access to services and begin to reduce Detroit’s high rate of pre-term births,” she added.

Another DMC Foundation grant of $51,000 helps support a program at the Detroit Medical Center which trains hundreds of Motor City firefighters in the use of Automated External Defibrillators, adult and infant CPR and basic life-saving techniques.

According to Detroit Medical Center officials, more than 50 of their instructors have trained more than 400 firefighters through 7,000+ hours of intensive training sessions.

“Prior to the DMC Foundation grant, our department simply did not have the financial ability to provide such training for our men and women,” said Detroit Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins. “This training is needed and effective ...and it’s thanks to the foundation that it’s in place and working. It is saving lives.”

In the area of Metro Detroiters eating healthier, the DMC Foundation is also playing a key role.

A $10,000 DMC Foundation grant to the Northwest Detroit Farmers’ Market (NDFM) – operated by the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp., a neighborhood nonprofit community development organization – is going towards the creation of various educational and health-screening programs for city residents.

The screenings will be aimed at uncovering such chronic conditions as hypertension, diabetes and other grant-supported programs like cooking demonstrations, yoga, garden workshops and canning and preserving fruits and vegetables.

A key component to making this effort work, said NDFM Market Master Chelsea Neblett, is providing metro Detroiters shuttle transportation to the market so they can participate in its various health-related programs.

“We would never have been able to provide these types of services to our (city residents) if not for the DMC Foundation grant,” said Neblett. “That money has made all the difference.”

Yet another success story for the DMC Foundation is its funding in support of an initiative entitled: “Project Healthy Schools”, currently helping to create a culture of healthy eating and physical activity in more than 50 middle schools across the state.

The goal of the project is to reduce long-term cardio-vascular health risks and childhood obesity by encouraging students to:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Choose fewer sugary foods and beverages
  • Eat less fast food and fatty food
  • Spend less time in front of a screen, and
  • Be active every day

The curriculum is delivered as part of the school day and has been rigorously tested to meet state and national education standards.

Encouraging vision testing among adults and children in the Metro Detroit area is still another DMC Foundation area of interest.

For example, during a series of neighborhood events last spring, vision screening tests by the Kresge Eye Institute, along with accident prevention information supplied by Sinai-Grace Hospital, were provided to several hundred families thanks to grants from DMC.

How CFSEM & DMC Make It all Work

The endowed assets of the DMC Foundation were comingled with CFSEM’s endowment for investment purposes, according to Noland.

Approximately 190 funds combine to make up the $60 million in DMC Foundation assets, and many of those are restricted for specific fields of funding. Others are available for unrestricted or are flexible for health-related grants as determined by the foundation.

Each year, the DMC Foundation is expected to grant millions of dollars to meet its mission, with grants averaging between $10,000 to $250,000, according to CFSEM.

It is the expertise of CFSEM that has made this all work as it administers more than 1,050 funds and averages about 3,000 grants each year.

“We have the experience on staff to do this kind of grantmaking, but (as) importantly, the ability to maintain all of these funds and donor intent in perpetuity,” said Noland.

For more information about the DMC Foundation, visit: www.dmcfound.org.

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