$40 million fund provided behavioral health services to 32,000 high-risk Coloradans; sustainability, geographic reach vital to future success
Press Release – Denver – On Thursday, March 16, The Denver Foundation and Colorado Health Institute jointly released “Building from the Baseline,” an evaluation of the Colorado Health Access Fund’s activity and impact in its inaugural year.
Founded at The Denver Foundation with an anonymous $40 million gift, the Colorado Health Access Fund (CHA Fund) seeks to increase access to behavioral health care statewide. From August 2015-September 2016, the CHA Fund distributed nearly $2.2 million to 28 grantees from across Colorado. “Building from the Baseline” is an analysis of results from that one-year period.
Prepared in partnership with the Colorado Health Institute (CHI), Colorado’s experts in health policy and evaluation, the analysis was designed to measure how well the CHA Fund is increasing access to behavioral health services across the state, and to measure how well it adheres to the donor’s intent. “Building from the Baseline” is the first of what will become an annual evaluation of the activity and impact of the CHA Fund.
“The CHA Fund is supporting important work at a time of major developments in the field of behavioral health in Colorado, including the opening of the National Behavioral Health Innovation Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus; the implementation of the State Innovation Model; and the launch of a statewide crisis hotline championed by Governor John Hickenlooper,” says Christine Márquez-Hudson, President and CEO of The Denver Foundation. “The findings from this evaluation will inform how we progress towards goals in 2017 and beyond. They also advance the Fund’s objectives by contributing to a collective body of knowledge on behavioral health programming in Colorado.”
Some key findings from the evaluation:
“We found that the fund is generally on track to meet its mission of expanding behavioral health care access to Coloradans with high health care needs,” says Jeff Bontrager, Director of Research on Coverage and Access for Colorado Health Institute. “But despite the overall positive findings, grantees did cite some recurring challenges like finding and retaining behavioral health staff and financing their programs.
“Based on our evaluation findings, we made some recommendations,” Bontrager continues. “The intent of those recommendations is to help meet the intent of the donor, and to help grantees be successful.”
Among CHI’s recommendations:
About The Colorado Health Access Fund
Providing behavioral health services in Colorado, especially in rural and underserved communities, is no easy endeavor. The Colorado Health Access Fund was created in 2015 with an anonymous $40 million gift as a Field of Interest fund at The Denver Foundation. The intent of the fund is to support programs/activities that generally increase access to health care and strive to improve health outcomes for populations in Colorado with high health-care needs. The fund will help to ensure health care services are equitably available to all Coloradans with high health needs by distributing the funds to organizations throughout the state. The Colorado Health Access Fund will distribute approximately $5 million per year through 2022.
Background: The CHA Fund’s Focus on Behavioral Health Care
Providing behavioral services in Colorado—especially in rural and underserved communities—is no easy endeavor. According to a 2014 analysis of the health care landscape conducted by the Colorado Health Institute and commissioned by The Denver Foundation, 15 of the 21 Colorado Health Statistic Regions included mental/behavioral health as a top local public health priority. Furthermore, mental and behavioral health care was cited as a community priority in every community dialogue conducted by CHI. Discussions with health and community foundations identified access to mental health and substance abuse as the most pressing issues statewide. For these and other reasons, the Colorado Health Access Fund is focused on increasing access to behavioral health treatment.
Overall, the Colorado Health Access Fund seeks to:
About The Colorado Health Institute
The Colorado Health Institute is a Denver-based health policy research organization that believes better information leads to better-informed decisions—and a healthier Colorado. We are nonprofit and nonpartisan. We are a trusted source of independent and objective health information, data, and analysis for health care leaders. Funding comes from the Caring for Colorado Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, The Colorado Trust, and the Colorado Health Foundation. For more information, visit http://www.coloradohealthinstitute.org/.
About The Denver Foundation
The Denver Foundation is a community foundation that inspires people and mobilizes resources to improve life in Metro Denver. In 2015, the Foundation and its donors awarded more than $97 million in grants. The Denver Foundation has three roles: stewarding an endowment to meet current and future needs for Metro Denver, working with community leaders to address the core challenges that face the community, and managing more than 1,000 charitable funds on behalf of individuals, families, and businesses. For more information, visit http://www.denverfoundation.org/.