Kansas City Philanthropy Community Prepared for Challenges

Before we bid farewell to an eventful year dominated by the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, our Health Forward associates take a look back at significant events and projects and share their insights about the year 2013.

On day three of our year in review, Health Forward Program Officer Andres Dominguez appraises the ever-changing challenges for nonprofits.

As a program officer, my work is never complete. For administrators at nonprofits, their work is never complete, as well. As one project ends, another comes into existence. As community needs change and shift, the nonprofit sector adjusts accordingly.

In 2013, I once against experienced the nonprofit sector in our region as a robust entity that is meeting the challenges with finite resources and assets. In times of economic challenges, organizations have risen to the occasion. Innovation becomes a challenge as organizations may seek to meet the bare essential needs. While many may look to foundations for leadership and direction, oftentimes it’s the grassroots leaders that lead the charge on transformation.

This past year I served as the program committee Co-chair for the affinity group of Grantmakers in Aging. This national group serves as an “inclusive and responsive membership organization that is a national catalyst for philanthropy, with a common dedication to improving the experience of aging.” A year ago, the group made a decision to host the annual Grantmakers in Aging conference, and thus bring more than 200 funders to Kansas City.

In hosting this event, we were committing to some serious fundraising and event planning. We knew we’d need additional help to pull this off. Was the Kansas City philanthropic community ready for the challenge? A group of committed funders believed so. They included Bank of America, Jewish Heritage Foundation, John Knox Village Foundation, Mr. Goodcents Foundation, Health Forward Foundation and MARC. Together, we sought to demonstrate that this region was innovative in its approach to building a healthy community for all.

image.jpegAndres Dominguez, left, moderates a panel on The Best of Kansas City, a conversation with national funders on how Kansas City has positioned itself in addressing the aging demographic shift in our community.

Before a national group of funders, KC nonprofits presented the Best of the Kansas City Region: Working Together to Build Better Communities. As with most U.S. cities, Kansas City is experiencing a rapid upward shift in the age of its population. Within our community the following organization presented the exciting work of KC Communities for All Ages, The Beans and Greens Program, Menorah Legacy Foundation, Truman Heartland Community Foundation’s mobilization efforts and Clay County Senior Services — all private and public ventures that seek to solve various issues in Kansas City. In the end, the message was clear: a common purpose of strengthening opportunities for all.

It is not uncommon to find change agents in Kansas City. We have a rich history of social entrepreneurism, models of social programming mixed with real social change. A strong and healthy nonprofit sector is connected to foundation success. While we fund in safety net, mental health and healthy lifestyles, the challenge before philanthropy is how to best invest a largess to benefit the community. With that challenge, comes the responsibility to do it right and to listen. In 2013 as health care changed, our foundation had to change as well. Our partners have had to change. We function in a dynamic environment. But I saw how well the philanthropy community meshed to bring the Grantmakers in Aging conference to Kansas City, so I know that whatever changes are ahead, we’ll face them together.


Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 241-7006