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Healthcare Georgia Foundation's CDFI Investments

Summary 
  • Need: In rural Georgia, poor health outcomes and high poverty rates require innovative approaches.
  • Intervention: As the only statewide private foundation in Georgia with the sole focus of improving health, Healthcare Georgia Foundation supports Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to do the same.
  • Results: With a program related investment from the Foundation, 2 statewide CDFIs and 1 national CDFI are providing low-interest loans and other support to rural healthcare efforts.

Description

In Georgia, 9 out of 10 of the lowest ranked counties in health outcomes are rural. Many of these counties also have high poverty rates, making it all the more difficult to improve health of communities.

Healthcare GA Foundation logo Since its founding in 2002, Healthcare Georgia Foundation's aim has been to achieve results for Georgians through strategic grant making and direct charitable activities. The Foundation was established as a result of BlueCross BlueShield's (BCBS) conversion to a for-profit organization, and the Foundation has carried on BCBS's mission to address health disparities throughout the state. Through wise investment, the original endowment has grown, making possible grant support totaling $73 million.

Healthcare Georgia Foundation remains the only statewide private foundation with the sole focus of improving health. In addition to nonprofits and community groups, the Foundation has recently begun investing in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) for philanthropic endeavors that meet needs of underserved populations.

The Foundation's investments in CDFIs are made through a strategic combination of grants and loans and are used for 2 main purposes:

  • Technical: Training and education opportunities to strengthen CDFIs and their financial base.
  • Financial: Investments help organizations achieve results for Georgians through strategic grant making and direct charitable activities.

The Foundation has made program related investments to 3 CDFIs this year:

  • Albany Community Together (a certified CDFI based in Albany, GA) – Provides financial assistance to small businesses that lack access to traditional sources of capital.
  • Carver State Bank (a CDFI based in Savannah, GA) – Invests in low-income, minority, and rural communities throughout the state.
  • Community Health Center Capital Fund (a national CDFI focused on health) – Provides low-interest loans to community-based health centers serving low-income and uninsured populations throughout the country.

Services offered

In addition to finances, Healthcare Georgia Foundation provides the following services to help develop CDFI capacity:

  • Training and technical assistance
  • Capacity building focused on health and social determinants
  • Assistance with board of director training
  • New information systems and accounting systems

Healthcare Georgia Foundation convenes CDFIs several times a year for an opportunity to contribute ideas, problem solve, and share best practices.

Results

Too early to receive a fiscal return from these 3 investments, Healthcare Georgia Foundation is likely to see return in coming years and plans on reinvesting in health efforts for underserved populations. Other national, state, or local CDFIs are invited to be co-investors to bolster the seed money.

To help CDFIs formally evaluate the outcomes of their investments, the Healthcare Georgia Foundation is deploying its technical and financial resources to organizations that can help CDFIs conduct evaluations.

Challenges

  • Nonprofits or communities that have been grant recipients in the past may not qualify or be ready to pay back a low interest loan. Identifying their abilities early in the application process will help CDFIs make informed decisions around their investments.
  • Investing in CDFIs can pose a financial risk to a lender because the investment may not yield benefits in a short amount of time. It is important to consider this possibility and allow for financial flexibility before making commitments.

Replication

Healthcare Georgia Foundation believes foundations have an opportunity to support philanthropic efforts through CDFIs. Below are some specific benefits and considerations:

  • Many foundations share commonalities with CDFIs, including charitable mindsets, values focused on underserved communities, and building sustainable results.
  • By supporting CDFIs, foundations have an opportunity to be a part of creating change on a local level for underserved communities that can greatly benefit from a small investment.
  • Because CDFIs are not trained to be health investors, it is wise for foundations to consider providing technical assistance and evaluation support so that CDFIs' investments can be even more effective.
  • Foundations can get involved directly on the ground level by building the capacity of local efforts. For instance, Healthcare Georgia Foundation created the Two Georgias Initiative in an attempt to make rural community health coalitions it supports more sustainable and, therefore, more attractive to investors.

Contact Information

Gary D. Nelson, Ph.D., President
Healthcare Georgia Foundation
404.653.0990
gnelson@healthcaregeorgia.org

Topics
Capital funding
Federally Qualified Health Centers
Networking and collaboration
Philanthropy
Social determinants of health

States served
Georgia

Date added
December 2, 2019

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2019. Healthcare Georgia Foundation's CDFI Investments [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1075 [Accessed 20 October 2020]


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.