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Crystal Hinson Miller, chief philanthropy officer for Indiana University Health and president of the IU Health Foundation, is a national leader in healthcare philanthropy. Here, she shares her personal reflections.
When I started working in healthcare philanthropy in the late ’90s, it was fairly common to see a fundraising campaign for a hospital focused on bricks and mortar. At that time, the healthcare industry focused inward for philanthropic impact, centered around the belief that it could best meet the needs of its communities by building state-of-the-art facilities that could serve more people and reach new areas.
Over the years, that focus has shifted to embrace a broader understanding of the ways healthcare organizations can make a difference. I’m proud to be affiliated with an organization that’s on the leading edge of that shift, and to work with community partners who help to make it possible.
At IU Health, we still invest in new facilities when that’s what’s needed. Our soon-to-open regional academic health center in Bloomington, along with a new campus in downtown Indianapolis and other brick-and-mortar projects underway around Indiana, make it clear that we’re committed to providing the most up-to-date and accessible healthcare destinations for the Hoosiers we serve.
But we’ve also recognized that, as one of Indiana’s largest employers and a key investor and resource in our communities, we can make significant contributions to Hoosiers’ health by doing more than providing care within our walls. We understand that a community’s health is profoundly affected by social determinants such as access to healthy food and affordable housing, and we appreciate how much those social determinants are affected by the financial stability that comes from good and promising jobs.
That’s why we’re so excited about the recently announced Mosaic Center for Work, Life and Learning, a workforce-development project led by IU Health in collaboration with several community partners. Supported by an $8 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the center is named for the “mosaic” of services it will offer to support the work, life and learning goals of individuals seeking greater self-sufficiency.
Specifically, the Mosaic Center will help to provide job training and jobs to unemployed and underemployed people from the community, former foster care youth, and students in the IU Health Fellowship Program at Crispus Attucks High School, which uses a curriculum co-developed by Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and IU Health and guarantees program fellows job offers from IU Health upon graduation. Mosaic Center programs will also serve entry-level IU Health employees looking to increase their opportunities and earning potential.
From a location in the Excelsior, a mixed-use housing complex being developed at Indianapolis’ 22nd and Illinois streets by Near North Development Corp., the Mosaic Center will draw from the expertise of several partners, including Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC), IPS, Ivy Tech Community College, IUPUI, EmployIndy/Indy Achieves and Recovery Café. IU Health team members and Mosaic staff will provide career, financial and personal coaching to individuals as well as direction to resources for food access, transportation, housing, addiction and mental health services, and more. The center also will offer WiFi and computer access, as well as networking and mentorship opportunities, and it is expected to provide services to 800 to 1,000 individuals each year.
None of this community- and life-changing work would be possible without philanthropic support. In addition to the Lilly Endowment grant, the Mosaic Center has received funding from IU Health Foundation supporters Mike and Sue Smith, and IU Health is leveraging $1 million from its Community Impact Investment Fund to take advantage of matching-grant dollars. Such community support, along with that of future philanthropic partners, will be essential for the long-term impact of the Mosaic Center.
The past few decades have shown us that building new facilities is important, but if we build those facilities with no regard for the overall wellness of the people who live around them, if we continue to provide care without addressing factors that contribute to better health, and if we ignore opportunities to truly make a difference in people’s lives, then we aren’t fulfilling our vision at IU Health of making Indiana one of the healthiest states in the nation.
In the past, IU Health has drawn attention for its work on behalf of community impact. We’ve been cited in professional publications and gatherings of philanthropic professionals across the nation for our forward-thinking approach to investing through philanthropy to strengthen communities. It’s exciting to see how philanthropic dollars are allowing us to expand this new focus, demonstrating our commitment to defining success not just by what happens within the walls of its hospitals, clinics and other care centers, but by what happens in the communities around those facilities and in the regions we serve.
Or, to put it another way, as IU Health Executive Vice President, Mission and Values and Chief of Staff Kevin R. Armstrong said, “We want to build a hospital and partner with existing neighborhoods and communities to support safety, accessibility and the kind of environment in which people can stay healthy and not have to go to a hospital – and then we will have a tremendous success.”