Symposium highlights new partnership

Published 9:58 pm Thursday, October 31, 2019

Obici Healthcare Foundation highlighted a new partnership to help strengthen community nonprofits during its second annual symposium on Thursday morning at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

The foundation has partnered with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence to help provide services to local nonprofit organizations to increase their capacity to carry out their missions more effectively. These services might include grants, technical assistance and partnership programs.

Nonprofits are a vital part of any community, noted one speaker during the event.

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“Nonprofits are an integral part of the web that knits our communities together,” said Cristine Nardi, executive director of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. “Nonprofits are the standard-bearer for what our community values are.”

About 150 people attended Thursday’s event to hear Obici Healthcare Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Annette Beuchler explain the new partnership along with Nardi and Deputy Director of Strategic Partnerships Cindy Colson from the Center for Nonprofit Excellence.

The foundation historically made grants only in the health space, focusing on safety-net providers like free clinics and medical missions as well as prevention programs like those encouraging people to be more active and providing more access to healthy food.

And while the foundation still makes grants in those areas, it also has spent the last two to three years moving toward making grants in areas deemed “social determinants of health,” like improving early childhood education.

At last year’s symposium, the organization announced a $1 million grant to the University of Virginia to implement a curriculum to strengthen the quality of early childhood education in the area. Updating the crowd at Thursday’s event, Beuchler said participation in that program now includes 65 classrooms in 25 schools or centers across five school divisions, with 140 teachers and 28 administrators involved.

The foundation’s current focus is on strengthening the health care safety net, improving maternal and child health outcomes, promoting healthy behaviors and early childhood education.

But along with those comes the new focus of capacity building for community nonprofits, no matter the area in which they operate.

Earlier this year, the foundation made a $385,100 grant to the Center for Nonprofit Excellence for it to work extensively with 12 nonprofits in its service region and also provide additional technical assistance to others.

The foundation also will provide separate tools called CANDID and Donor Search for any nonprofits in its service area to use to find funding sources, Beuchler said.

“We want to make sure there’s someplace for the other nonprofits to work with us,” she said.

In addition to the updates, the event included a breakout session where guests discussed the greatest needs in their organizations and then reported back to the group.

Beuchler said the event will help the Center for Nonprofit Excellence in its work.

“They really just needed to talk to and learn from those in our community,” she said after the event. “They kind of wanted to do the groundwork first.”

The Obici Healthcare Foundation is a private foundation established in 2006 with funds from the sale of Louise Obici Memorial Hospital to Sentara Healthcare. Since then, it has awarded more than $53 million in grant funding.

The foundation’s service area encompasses Suffolk and Franklin, Isle of Wight County and Gates County, N.C., as well as parts of Surry County (Surry, Dendron and Elberon); Sussex County (Waverly and Wakefield); and Southampton County (Boykins, Newsoms, Courtland, Sedley and Ivor). This area is home to more than 168,000 people and 1,100 nonprofit organizations, Beuchler said Thursday.

For more information about Obici Healthcare Foundation, visit