The Partnership for Better Health is a well-respected voice on timely health issues and actively involved in various initiatives and events throughout the community. Whether we are weighing in on a pressing policy issue, sharing recent developments in the field of health care or spreading the news about a promising public health strategy, we aim to keep the community informed and engaged.

Browse recent news items below to see what’s happening, and stay informed by signing up to receive future communications directly in your inbox.

Gov. Josh Shapiro Proclaims September 2023 as Health Equity Month

The Partnership for Better Health is thrilled to celebrate the designation of September 2023 as Health Equity Month in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Governor Josh Shapiro remarked, “I commend all those helping to raise awareness of health equity, and I applaud their devotion to improving the health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians.” In his proclamation, the Governor mentions the Partnership for Better Health, a community foundation that works collaboratively with key stakeholders throughout parts of Cumberland, Perry, Adams, and Franklin Counties to positively influence the lives of our neighbors.

To commemorate this dynamic month, the Partnership for Better Health has curated several digital learning experiences to promote health equity. Learn more about Health Equity using the resources below:

HEALTH EQUITY 101 — Learn about health equity at your own pace! The Partnership for Better Health presents this complimentary self-paced digital training to introduce people, teams, and organizations to the dynamic elements of health equity. Dr. Marcellus C. Taylor, Director of Health Equity, serves as the facilitator for this free 90-minute learning experience. Sign up today:

HOUSING — In this profound talk, Stephen Brown discusses “Lessons Learned” from the Better Health Through Housing program, a partnership between the Center for Housing and Health and UI Health that identifies and transitions the chronically homeless from our Emergency Room into permanent supportive housing. Stephen is a faculty member and Director of Preventive Emergency Medicine in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System.

ENVIRONMENT — What part of your illnesses are genetic, and what part of them are environmental? Professor B.M. Hegde breaks down misconceptions about health and leaves us questioning what health actually means.

We are Updating Our Grantmaking Process

The Partnership for Better Health board and staff team recently completed a new strategic plan, using the lenses of justice, health equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging to strengthen our work and connect further with the region we serve. One of our priorities in the coming year is to strengthen our grantmaking and organizational practices, to better align with these principles.

We are committed to building an equitable, just, and inclusive community investment process and to supporting our local nonprofit community. To accomplish this, we will be modifying our upcoming August 1 and December 1 grantmaking cycles to allow time to reaffirm funding priorities, gather feedback from local partners, residents, and grantees, and improve our application and reporting processes.

While funding new grants will be on hold until December 1, we have developed a streamlined grants process to renew existing eligible grants and mini-grants for the remainder of 2023.

  1. Prior mini-grant and regular grant recipients that are eligible for 2nd or 3rd years of funding will be able to apply through a simplified renewal process. If you are eligible for a mini- or regular renewal grant for our August 1, 2023 or December 1, 2023 deadlines, you will receive an email from our staff with additional information about the streamlined application process closer to that deadline.
  2. Our August 1, 2023 grant deadline will be closed to any new grant funding ideas and requests (except for renewal grants referred to in #1).
  3. Our December 1, 2023 grant deadline will be partially open for new grants up to $10,000, new mini-grants or Spark of Change grants up to $5,000, and any remaining renewal grants referred to in #1.
  4. We anticipate announcing the new grantmaking process in early 2024.
  5. For our March 1, 2024 deadline, new grant applications will be accepted under the new grantmaking process.
  6. Throughout the coming months, the Partnership for Better Health will monitor emerging and urgent community needs. If you become aware of a particularly pressing need that may not be on our radar, please do not hesitate to be in touch.

We look forward to continuing to connect with you as we prepare to announce our new grantmaking and streamlined reporting processes in early 2024.

We are excited about what a more equitable and inclusive grants process could mean for our local nonprofits and the communities we serve. We remain grateful for all our partners do to improve the health of our region.

Visit our grants page for updates and to access the online Grants Management System.

If you are unsure how this plan affects your organization, feel free to reach out to your primary grants contact at the foundation (Carol, Gail, Marcellus or Becca) for a conversation. 

Seeking HR Consultant for Equity-Focused Audit

The Partnership for Better Health is seeking proposals from interested consultants and firms to complete a human resources (HR) audit. The goal of the audit is to strengthen our HR policies and best practices to align with best practices in human resources management and the principles of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging.

We seek a qualified human resources consultant with proven experience uplifting these goals and values in the workplace. The budget for this audit is expected to range between $3,000 and $6,000. The deadline to apply is June 30, 2023. The project is scheduled to begin in August and be completed by October 9, 2023.

Click here to view the full RFP.

Proposals may be submitted via email to Casandra Jewell at: [email protected]. Please feel free to direct possible questions about this RFP to Becca Raley, Executive Director (717-960-9009 x4 and [email protected]).

We’re Hiring: Finance Director

The Partnership for Better Health is seeking a Finance Director to direct all day-to-day aspects of the foundation’s accounting, investment, financial management and HR benefit administration systems. The director will develop and implement financial policy, accounting and reporting through a comprehensive fiscal plan and budget. Reporting to the Executive Director, the director works closely with the board and staff to ensure high levels of accountability, excellence and transparency in all aspects of financial, fundraising and Human Resource benefit management, in pursuit of the foundation’s mission. The director formulates, calculates and provides documentation to continually monitor current financial activities and create forward thinking strategies that ensure the operations of the organization are maintained into the future.

Strong candidates with diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. The Partnership for Better Health offers an attractive compensation and full benefits package, including competitive salary, paid-time-off, employee wellness, medical, dental and life insurances, and retirement benefits. At 30-hours a week, the position supports a healthy work/life balance. To apply, please email your cover letter, resume and three references to Casandra Jewell Sweeney ([email protected]). The position will be open until filled, with interviews beginning in June.

To view the full job description, click here: Hiring Finance Director (May 2023).

Youth Mental Health – Local Findings and 2021 Data

The Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) is an important tool used to understand how students in grades 6 to 12 see their community, school, family, and peers. Findings from the survey help decision makers understand community strengths and identify problems that may impact students before they arrive at school, specifically related to food security, housing instability, the loss of close family and friends, and attitudes and knowledge concerning alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and violence.

The Pennsylvania Youth Survey is a biennial effort that began in 1989. It is supported by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). The survey is voluntary and confidential. The data gathered by the survey serves two purposes:

  • First, the results provide school administrators, state agency directors, legislators and others with critical information concerning the changes in patterns of the use and abuse of harmful substances and behaviors.
  • Second, the survey assesses risk factors that are related to these behaviors and the protective factors that help guard against them. This information allows community leaders to direct prevention resources to areas where they are likely to have the greatest impact.

The Partnership for Better Health commissioned a report to combine PAYS results in our service area from 2017, 2019, and 2021. Findings from this report were shared during our Youth-Serving Professionals Forum held in Carlisle on May 2, 2023. The presentation was led by Sharron Michels. Sharron is an independent consultant, former and founding Executive Director of Collaborating For Youth, and a former PAYS Statewide Advisory Group Member. Panelists included Geoff Kolchin (Deputy Director of the Office of Justice Programs, Unit of Violence Prevention Initiatives, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency); Fiona Williston (Prevention Program Supervisor for the Cumberland-Perry Drug & Alcohol Commission); and Lisa Harrison (Youth Aid Panel Director for the Cumberland County Juvenile Probation).

Findings from the Partnership for Better Health’s PAYS area report included the following:

  • 90 percent of youth report not drinking alcohol in the last 30 days.
  • When asked where they get alcohol, 33 percent of students report parents provide and 17 percent gave someone money to purchase for them; 36 percent of respondents took alcohol without permission.
  • While marijuana use is down from 2017, 33 percent of 12th grade students report electronic vaping marijuana or hash oil in the past 12 months (up from 15 percent in 2017).
  • 65 percent of 12th grade students report vaping nicotine in the past 12 months.
  • 71 percent of 6th grade students “don’t know” whether the e-cigarettes or vaping they used in the past 12 months contained just flavoring, nicotine, or marijuana/hash oil.
  • Of the 26 percent of youth that reported being bullied in the past 12 months, 52 percent selected it was based on the “way I look (hairstyle/clothes)” and 44 percent report it was based on “size.”
  • 11 percent of youth have worried about running out of food in the past 12 months and 6 percent of students have gone without a meal due to family finances (8 percent of 12th grade students).
  • 43 percent of students report feeling depressed or sad most days for at least two weeks over the past 12 months.
  • 19 percent of youth (24 percent of 8th graders) have cut, scraped, or burned themselves in the past year as a way to relieve difficult feelings and emotions.
  • 20 percent of students report considering suicide in the past 12 months, and 12 percent report attempting suicide.
  • 40 percent of students report enjoying being in school during the past year, and 35 percent believe the work they do in school is meaningful and important.
  • 53 percent of students report their teachers praise them for hard work, 78 percent report many opportunities to talk with their teachers one-on-one, and 82 percent of students report “I feel safe at my school.”

Sharron Michels reviewed findings from the schools in our geographic region of South Central Pennsylvania. Panelists shared how they use the PAYS data in their work and encouraged attendees to consider building more protective factors and pro-social opportunities for youth to mitigate risks.

“PAYS is a crucial tool that helps us understand the myriad of issues faced by youth in our community,” said Carol Thornton, Director of Grants and Public Policy at the Partnership for Better Health. “Our foundation is committed to understanding and addressing the needs of our youth, related to substance use, mental health, food, and housing.”

View the 2021 PAYS summary report online, or view presentation slides from the Youth-Serving Professionals Forum.

To better understand the youth in our region and across the state, visit the Pennsylvania Youth Survey website, which has statewide data from 1989-2021. You can view data by county or request PAYS summary reports that include data for multiple school districts. Each school district is also provided with a customized report for 2021 that can be shared upon request – contact your school district to see a report specific to your student’s school.

See below for more information and resources.

The next survey is scheduled for the 2023 school year and registration is now open! Encourage your school district to participate and remind them that the data is valuable in securing funding for need-based programs. Learn more:

Seeking Health Consulting Proposals for Perry County

The Partnership for Better Health is seeking proposals from interested consultants or organizations to coordinate and lead the Perry County Health Coalition with its 2022 Call to Action. Consultant(s) should demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of health systems and rural health, including primary care, behavioral health, and oral health services. Experience with grassroots community engagement, consensus building among diverse stakeholders, and the development of aspirational and measurable actions is important. Knowledge of health literacy concepts and the practices of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging is critical. Professional or residential relationships in Perry County are a plus.

Funding for this consultancy is up to $60,000 a year. The expected timeframe is August 15, 2023, to July 31, 2024, with the potential for two one-year renewals. Proposals are due by June 22, 2023, and may be submitted by email.

Click here to view the full Request for Proposals (RFP).

Contact Carol Thornton, Director of Grants and Public Policy, for questions regarding this RFP ([email protected]; 717-960-9009 x7).

$859,000 Community Investment Through 2023 Match Madness Campaign!

Representatives from 48 local nonprofits met on April 19 to celebrate the eighth annual Match Madness campaign, which broke records in the number of donations received and grand total raised.

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“We are astounded by the incredible rallying of support from our community, amidst challenging times,” shared Antonia Price, Director of Communications and Development. “This marks the most successful effort in the history of the campaign! More than $859,000 will go back into the community to support essential local services and resources. The impact of this collective effort is truly inspiring.”

Over the course of the month, the Partnership received hundreds of calls and in-person visits from neighbors eager to support Match Madness. More than 2,190 donations were made by local businesses and individuals committed to the cause, raising over $709,000 in flexible funding to support the work of local nonprofit organizations.

An additional $150,000 in matching funds were provided by the Partnership for Better Health with the support of M&T Bank, Josiah W. and Bessie H. Kline Foundation, McCormick Family Foundation, and donations from Partnership board, staff, and volunteers.

Top five fundraisers of the campaign were Project SHARE of CarlisleThe Peyton Walker FoundationCommunity CARESTomorrow’s Neighbors, and The Salvation Army, each raising over $50,000 through generous donations in addition to the matching funds they will receive.

Funds raised through the campaign are crucial to core operations and special initiatives of many local nonprofits, who work across sectors to support wellness of individuals and community health.

“The reality is that, in Cumberland County, we have people who decide daily between food and medicine, or housing, or transportation, or education, or the many needs and services that other organizations work to stitch together for our community in need.  We are here to reduce food insecurity with nutritious food and programs… It will help us reach out to more households with improved nutrition, as well as to kids with summer feeding needs,” said Joe Kloza, Project SHARE’s Education & Communication Outreach Coordinator. “We are thankful to live in a community that prioritizes needs and supports and recognizes those organizations who reach out to others who will benefit themselves and their families.  This comes to a crescendo in March, thanks to the efforts and encouragement of the Partnership for Better Health as part of the Match Madness campaign.”

Whether small or large, many organizations were thrilled to meet their individual campaign goals.

“The South Mountain Partnership was honored to be invited to participate this year, and we identified a modest goal of funding two $600 grants. We were thrilled to exceed our goal and raise $900,” shares Julia Chain, South Mountain Partnership Program Manager. “Through the match, these donations will be doubled for a total of $1,800 for us to offer Flex Grants to support grassroots projects that conserve, promote, and protect landscape resources in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York Counties, with a special focus on increasing diversity, access, and inclusion! This additional support doubles our overall investment. We want to sincerely thank our donors and the Partnership for Better Health for securing the match. We believe their promotion of the program and strong community reputation really helped us succeed!”

The Central Perry Community Senior Citizens Center flew past their goal, raising more than $16,900 plus matching funds to continue providing lunch and healthy activities free-of-charge to older adults on weekdays. This is their third year participating in the campaign and residents visited Central Perry Community Senior Citizens Center daily to learn the latest campaign results. Residents worked together to fill out wish boards, gathering change and cash in addition to online and check donations. Director Laurie Morris enthusiastically extended the fundraising thermometer displayed in the center as they passed goals. The organization rallied the support of Perry County, embracing the celebratory spirit of the campaign.

Funds raised by Tomorrow’s Neighbors through their “Defending Second Chances” Match Madness Campaign will go toward their mission to empower Returning Citizens to stop the cycle of crime by becoming responsible community members.

Co-Founder and Executive Director Kurt Danysh shares, “The money donated enables us to fulfill our mission. But it is the support and encouragement from the community that reinforces to the individuals we serve that they are not as bad as their worst moment, and that Cumberland County believes in second chances.”

Donors were extremely generous over the course of the month, with gifts ranging from one dollar in change to $45,000. Each of the participating organizations received a dollar-for-dollar match for the first $1,000 raised, plus a portion of $150,000 in matching funds based on the total they raised. Through the matching funds, many additional organizations were able to meet their fundraising goals.

Executive Director Becca Raley reflects, “In uncertain economic times for so many, this year’s outpouring of support for local nonprofits demonstrates sweeping recognition of the value and integrity of their work. The spirit of sharing and helping others is a distinct strength of our region.” She added, “We’re deeply grateful for the generosity of our community and honored to advance a huge collective victory.”

Learn more about the 2023 campaign, or view photos from the April 19 Celebration in the gallery above.

New Grant Aims To Promote Health Justice

As a community foundation, the Partnership for Better Health strives to serve as a catalyst, advocate, and collaborator to establish health as a shared priority, toward ensuring that everyone has what they need for good health. New grants of $25,000 to $50,000 are available to community groups that create a project that uplifts health justice. Successful proposals will demonstrate a commitment to engaging multiple partners to foster change for a specific community-level health injustice. Projects should: 1) address laws and policies that have historically created health inequities; 2) generate new laws and policies aimed at creating a more health-equitable future; and/or 3) provide a direct service that addresses a need caused by a health injustice. Proposals are due by Friday May 26, 2023.

Please see the complete Request for Applications for additional details or visit our Grants page to apply!

Carlisle Seeks Volunteers to Welcome New Community Members

Have you ever helped someone learn to drive or enrolled children in school? Do you know where to shop for groceries, how to open a bank account, or apply for jobs online? If so, you already have the experience you need to welcome new members of our community!

The Partnership for Better Health and Carlisle United Methodist Church are coordinating with area resettlement agencies to host a public information session about Welcome Corps. Announced by the U.S. federal government in January, Welcome Corps is a new service opportunity for Americans to welcome refugees seeking freedom and safety.

The information session is open to the public and will be held at Carlisle United Methodist Church (333 S. Spring Garden Street) on Tuesday, March 14, at 5 PM. Event sponsors aim to recruit and guide interested local volunteers with plans to assist new refugees in the tasks of gaining initial housing, securing employment, and becoming involved in the local community.

Speakers will include Carlisle Mayor Sean Schultz, Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg, Church World Services of Harrisburg, International Service Center, and Catholic Charities of Harrisburg. Some of the resettlement agencies anticipate doubling the number of new refugees they will serve in the coming year.

“Carlisle has a long tradition of being a welcoming community—people here know it’s a joy to be of service to others,” said Becca Raley, Executive Director of the Partnership for Better Health. Greater Carlisle played a significant role in welcoming Vietnamese families in the 1970s and 1980s. More recently, the successful resettlement of Afghan and Ukrainian families fleeing war and persecution has involved dozens of local volunteers and agencies.

“Whether they first arrived generations ago or just this year, our community is home to people from around the world,” Raley noted. “The strength of our nonprofits, faith-based organizations, schools and robust employment sector make us uniquely well suited to build on our welcoming tradition.”

Click here for an agenda from the March 14 event, or view our Resource Guide for Resettlement Volunteers.

Spark of Change Grant Impacts

In 2022, we awarded four Spark of Change mini-grants that were intentionally focused on addressing health equity challenges, finding solutions, and amplifying voices at the neighborhood level. Neighborhoods have a shared history and collective community characteristics that set them apart. Awardees demonstrated how their project would impact a specific neighborhood or community in our service area.

Each project sought to advance health equity in a localized way. To date, three organizations have completed their projects and reflected on their outcomes. We are pleased to feature community impacts from the following initiatives:

  • Tomorrow’s Neighbors: Rewriting Reentry
  • Hope Station: Black Girl’s Chronicles Learning Series
  • YWCA: Human Library Experience

Harvey Milk, the late famous activist and community leader once noted, “If we wish to rebuild our cities, we must first rebuild our neighborhoods.” If we are to effectively address the negative impacts that health inequity has created, we must allow space for intentional neighborhood-based solutions. Through the Partnership’s core funding priorities and targeted Request for Applications, we strategically fund community organizations to advance access to affordable health services, health education, health promotion, mental and behavioral health services, and more. We encourage applicants to purposefully engage neighborhood members as partners and leading advocates in the change process.

Our 2022 Spark of Change grants center on the use of counter-narratives to broaden our understanding of existing health inequities in our region and potential solutions to those inequities. Learn more about what we fund and recent Spark of Change grants, below.

Tomorrow’s Neighbors: Rewriting Reentry

The mission of Tomorrow’s Neighbors is to empower Returning Citizens to stop the cycle of crime by becoming responsible community members. Their vision is to significantly reduce crime and recidivism rates in Pennsylvania.

Through this $5,000 grant project, the organization generated a series of videos that aims to showcase returning citizens who have successfully reintegrated back into society after incarceration. To date, two videos have been broadcast in every state prison in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The videos have the potential to be viewed by over 39,000 justice involved citizens

Learn more and view Advice from Returning Citizens in the video, below:

Hope Station: Black Girl’s Chronicles Learning Series

Hope Station bolsters community pride and creates opportunities for personal advancement throughout the Carlisle area. Their vision is a safe, thriving, and culturally vibrant Carlisle community.

As part of the Black Girl’s Chronicles Learning Series, which focuses on topics and issues faced by Black women and girls, Hope Station planned an Empowerment and Educational Luncheon. In partnership with W.I.F.E. Co., a Black woman owned business focusing on financial literacy, the luncheon, “Your Net-Worth is NOT Your Self-Worth” included over 20 participants. These individuals had an open and honest discussion with a  skilled professional about how one’s financial situation can affect your mental health. Economic empowerment is a direct response to the social determinant of health, “Economic Stability.”

Learn more about the Black Girl’s Chronicles through The Sentinel.

YWCA: Human Library Experience

YWCA Carlisle & Cumberland County is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Human connections form the fabric of tight communities, but human behavior often doesn’t change without direct connections to individual people and their stories. The YWCA connected members of our community through a Human Library this past fall. Participants (over 550 people) were led through a series of intimate fireside discussions with community members of diverse backgrounds, to help our community move the needle on equity and inclusion through human connection.

View YWCA Carlisle & Cumberland County’s Facebook Page for photos from the event.