We are always proud of how our innovative and entrepreneurial grantees parlay work started with Foundation support into additional resources to improve the health of older adults (for example, in the CMMI Innovation Challenge program). Today, I am very proud to announce that in partnership with our long-time grantees at the University of Washington’s Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions (AIMS) center, led by Jurgen Unutzer, we have managed the same trick ourselves, resulting in what should ultimately be almost $11 million in new money to improve older adults’ mental health.

Starting last year, we have been preparing an application to the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) as part of its Social Innovation Fund competition. This competition calls for foundations and non-profit organizations to put forward evidence-based models (like the University of Washington’s IMPACT depression care model) that solve important social problems. It rewards the winners via a three-way award system in which private dollars are matched 1:1 with federal dollars and regranted out to subgrantees who must then obtain another 1:1 match to their awards. Right now, we've been awarded $2 million over 2 years. Assuming we do a good job (which we plan to!), we then get another year and another $1 million. Thus, our $3 million over three years should turn into $6 (thanks to the federal match) and then almost $11 million (thanks to the matching funds for the subgrantees).

We are part of a cohort of just four new awardees for 2012 who will be intermediaries between the Social Innovation Fund and subgrantees implementing innovative models. Staff at CNCS and our program officer (writing that feels odd!) tell us that the selection process “was highly competitive and sought proposals that would drive impact and transform lives. Only organizations with a track record of success implementing programs with evidence of effectiveness were eligible. All applicants also needed to have a strong plan for growing program capacity and rigorously evaluating their results.”

We join eleven intermediary organizations selected in 2010 and five selected in 2011 from all different sectors and varieties of philanthropy and social enterprise. We look forward to learning from the prior winners, including outstanding health funders such as the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Missouri Foundation for Health, as well as some of the most innovative philanthropic organizations in other sectors, such as The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, NCB Capital Impact, and Venture Philanthropy Partners.

We are excited about the opportunity to raise attention and awareness of mental health issues among older people, as well as about the money that we will be able to direct towards expanding the reach of the IMPACT model into low-income, rural communities in the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) region served by the University of Washington. The notice comes at a particularly appropriate moment; not only does our 2011 annual report focus on mental health among older adults, but the Institute of Medicine also just released a report, “In Whose Hands?” on the workforce needed to meet the demand for geriatric mental health services.

I want to explain the IMPACT model further, but I’d prefer to let Dr. Unutzer do that himself. We had been planning to save this video interview with Dr. Unutzer for a future blog to keep directing interest back to our annual report over the next several months, but I think his description of the issues surrounding depression, the IMPACT model, and its dissemination is a great way to announce our shared victory.

The IMPACT Program from Don Battershall on Vimeo.

For more information on the Social Innovation Fund grant, please also see our press release.