Nearly 100 years ago, the Kansas City Jewish community began a conversation about how to provide quality health care and afford all physicians a place to practice medicine, without regard to religion, race or economic status. Today this tradition lives on in the Menorah Heritage Foundation, recently formed by the merger of the Jewish Heritage Foundation and the Menorah Legacy Foundation.
A History of Health Care
The Jewish Memorial Hospital Association was formally established in 1926 to develop a new hospital that lived up to these ideals. As a result of their efforts, Menorah Hospital opened to the public in 1931. The Jewish Heritage Foundation was created in 1994 from the proceeds resulting from Menorah Medical Center joining Health Midwest, a local non-profit health care system.
The Menorah Legacy Foundation was created in 2003 when Health Midwest was purchased by HCA, a national for-profit health care company (editor’s note: this was the same sale from which Health Forward was created). At that time, the Menorah Medical Center Foundation concluded its affiliation with Menorah Medical Center, changed its name to the Menorah Legacy Foundation, and became an independent, charitable foundation.
In 2016, the two foundations merged to more effectively pursue our common mission to support health and well-being throughout the greater Kansas City community. As a result, the Menorah Heritage Foundation came into existence and remains deeply committed to Menorah Hospital’s tradition of healing and compassionate service.
Committed to the Community
The Menorah Heritage Foundation and its predecessors have distributed over $58,000,000 since 1994 to organizations in Kansas City.
The Menorah Legacy Foundation, Health Forward, Cultivate KC and others in our community partnered to create the successful Beans and Greens program, which evolved into the Double Up Food Bucks program. As did our predecessor foundations, we continue to identify innovative ideas, like Beans and Greens, to incubate through collaborative partnerships, with focused financial support and technical assistance from Menorah Heritage. We anticipate pursuing new incubation ideas in 2017.
Each of our grant strategies aims to materially improve the health of our community. For 2017, we have four distinct grant making cycles, three of which focus on organizations in the general community: Healthy for Life, Jewish Community, General Community Core and Older Adult. More information about these grant opportunities can be found at www.mhfkc.org.
Our Healthy for Life grants seed proactive programs that improve health and wellness by fostering transformational change in individual and/or communal behaviors. Examples of past grants funded include the Community Partner Gardens Program at Kansas City Community Gardens and the Coterie Theatre’s Dramatic Health Education Program.
Understanding the funding constraints under which nonprofits operate, our General Community Core grants support administrative and overhead costs for critical organizations in the general community. We often provide grants in this cycle to fund audits, utilities, rent, health insurance and other core needs. Past recipients include the Grandview Assistance Project, Jackson County CASA, reStart, Safehome, and Turner House Clinic.
Finally, over the past 10 years, our foundation has maintained a specific focus on older adults by funding core expenses for organizations providing programs or services that allow seniors to lead healthier lives by aging in their community.
In addition, we fund projects that convene regional stakeholders to address important issues that enhance the ability of older adults to age in community. Recent grant recipients include Christmas in October, Don Bosco Senior Center, Northland Shepherd’s Center, Reconciliation Services and the Mid-America Regional Council’s KC Community for All Ages initiative.
Jewish tradition holds that every act of goodness — every mitzvah commanded by the Torah — contributes to the ultimate repair of the world (tikkun olam), and that feeding the hungry, healing the sick and comforting the bereaved are building blocks for redemption. This tradition guides our work as a community funder.
More information about grant opportunities can be found at www.mhfkc.org. We are a supporting organization of the Jewish Community Foundation.