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Tipping Points Grants Lead to Jobs, Stability and Better Health

Tipping Points Grants Lead to Jobs, Stability and Better Health

Tipping points: small changes with big consequences.

Examples: Unaffordable car repairs that lead to work or school absences, layoffs or dropping out of school. A wardrobe that fails to meet job requirements. No home address to include on job or college applications.

Helping people past challenges to secure jobs and better living and health conditions for themselves and their families is the goal of Tipping Points Grants. Supported by the Partners for Community Wellness, the community engagement arm of Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s (D-H’s) Community Health Department, and administered by partner agencies, grants of $1,000 directly address fixable challenges faced by recipients and position them for improved stability and health.

“Socio-economic status and jobs are key determinants of health,” says Robert A. Greene, MD, D-H’s chief Population Health Management officer. “In our mission to improve population health, we have to think beyond the patients who are right in front of us to the prospective patients in our community.”

The Tipping Points idea was sparked by a conversation over dinner. “Our pastor shared his dream of helping people in need with practical help that could make a big difference in their life,” says Deb Jantzen who listened along with Susan Presberg-Greene, Robert Greene, and her husband, Dan Jantzen, D-H’s chief financial officer. “Susan and Rob knew a Minnesota organization called MicroGrants that was doing just that and we decided to learn more.”

MicroGrants staff were invited to Lebanon to share their experience and help D-H think through a program for its region. “MicroGrants has been in existence since 2006, and delivered 440 grants in 2014,” says Greene. “They were incredibly generous with their advice. I immediately thought, ‘We can do this.’ D-H is already a charitable organization, in Partners for Community Wellness we have the community engagement to support this program, and grants are administered through partner agencies so overhead is very low.”

Tipping Points partner agencies were chosen for the services they delivered and their location within D-H’s region. “We looked for sophisticated organizations that serve a wide-array of individuals and families and that could cover our geographic scope,” says Karen Borgstrom, director, Partners for Community Wellness. “The Upper Valley Haven, right here in White River Junction, is very engaged in helping people move towards secure housing and employment. Headquartered in Manchester, New Hampshire, Easter Seals is expansive in our region and offers a wide range of services to a wide range of clients. River Valley Community College in Claremont, New Hampshire prepares students for good-paying, stable careers. And Families in Transition focuses on the needs of homeless families in southern New Hampshire.”

“The staff in our partner agencies really know what they’re doing,” says Borgstrom. “They know how to piece grant money together with other funding sources or services to increase its impact, they know how to work with other agencies to make sure individuals are getting all the support that’s available, and they’re able to mentor recipients and follow their progress to ensure success.”

D-H’s Population Health Fund Innovation Fund provided money for Tipping Points’ first year. Each partner agency, initially, received $5,000; enough to distribute five $1,000 grants per agency, and set up mechanisms for identifying recipients, distributing funds, accounting and tracking. Since then, agencies have made grants and continue to find new recipients. Moving forward, grant money will be raised through philanthropy and distributed to agencies through Partners in Community Wellness.

“Students have been so grateful for these grants,” says Alex Herzog, vice president for Student and Community Affairs at River Valley Community College. “Without them, they would likely have had to drop out.”

The Upper Valley Haven has also seen the impact of Tipping Points. “The mentoring and case management we provided a grant recipient also gave a lift to his spouse who is now also employed,” says Sara Kobylenski, Executive Director, Upper Valley Haven. “The grants also energizes our staff. They understand the power of $1,000 to change lives. And, through our involvement in Tipping Points, we learn a lot from other agencies and share ideas for ensuring each recipient’s success.”

In 2017, Tipping Points Grants will be funded through philanthropy. Susan Presberg-Greene, who along with Deb Jantzen serves on the Tipping Points Steering Committee, is working with Borgstrom and the D-H Development team to develop strategies to encourage giving and expand the number of grants awarded.

“Tipping Points is a great model that shares know-how across agencies while lifting recipients and their families,” says Presberg-Greene. “Tipping Points Grants are making a big difference to recipients and their families. The stories are so moving. Supporting the program is a great way to show we care.”

For more information on the Tipping Points program or to make a donation please send an email to Karen.J.Borgstrom@Hitchcock.org