A Federal Funding Checkup for the Safety Net:



In our ongoing series on federal funding under President Trump, we've seen a pattern: the White House proposes massive budget cuts, and the Senate Appropriations Committee rejects those cuts. While some agencies have fared better than others, it looks like health and human services funding should remain fairly stable.

The White House budget initially proposed cutting funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 17%, the Food and Drug Administration by 31%, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by 18%.

However, in September, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted on the fiscal year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill, and chose to support a $3 billion increase over 2017, a total of $27.5 billion more than the President's budget request. A large portion of the increase is because of an extra $2 billion for the NIH, though several other agencies will also see additional funding under the bill.

Proposed cuts include $61.5 million to the Department of Labor and $11 million to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

(The Bill still needs final approval, and the approval process is moving fairly slowly for the upcoming fiscal year.)

If overall funding stays consistent, it's likely that grant availability will also stay consistent, and that is good news for current federal grantees and potential applicants.

But we also need to keep in mind that there might be an increase in future demand for health and human services support through avenues other than the government. In the wake of the House and Senate's votes on the tax plan, despite claims that the plan will trigger enough economic growth to be "revenue neutral," several legislators, including Senator Marco Rubio and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, are discussing cuts to the safety net (including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) in order to offset decreased tax revenue. With decreased support through these programs, other entities may need to fill the gaps in service. Organizations may have to find ways to do more with their current funding, or find new sources of funding in order to serve more people.

So aside from the federal government, where can health and human services agencies find funding?

If certain programs do get cut at the federal level, some states will step up to fill in the gap. (Obviously, this depends on your particular state.) GrantStation maintains lists of state grantmaking agencies. Many agencies have a place on their website where you can sign up to be informed of new opportunities as they become available. Local governments also occasionally offer opportunities for funding.

Outside of the government, one major source of targeted funds is professional associations. For example, the Alzheimer's Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Association of People with Disabilities offer a variety of funding opportunities. Even if an association doesn't offer grant support, it can often provide capacity building support and resources to help you in your funding search.

Many hospitals maintain foundations. While a lot of these exist to provide support directly to programs run by the hospital, some offer funding for programs in the community. And while you may think that these types of foundations may limit themselves to programs explicitly addressing health, many will fund human services efforts, as well. Issues like homelessness and hunger are definitely related to the health of people in the community. Check with your local healthcare provider to see what they offer. And consider being open to partnership opportunities. Many grantmakers are especially fond of collaborative efforts.

In the health field, many pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment makers offer grant programs. For example, GlaxoSmithKline, a maker of vaccines, offers a range of funding opportunities related to the company's interests. Even corporations that don't have a specific business interest in the health and human services sector may also be willing to consider support for such endeavors, as they can benefit the community as a whole.

Many churches and religious organizations also have a specific interest in human services and health issues. While some of these organizations limit their funding to their own programs, others offer support for outside organizations. Although some of these organizations only provide support to organizations with a specific religious affiliation, many consider support for any group doing good work in the community.

Of course, there are also a large number of private foundations and other funders addressing health and human services concerns. Services such as GrantStation can help you in your search for these funders. 

Action steps you can take today
  • Get associated! Professional associations are a great source of funding.
  • Hospitals are hospitable! Many care providers support programs in the local community.
  • Drum up some business! Corporations in the health and human services field often fund projects related to their products and interests.
  • Take it to church! Some religious organizations have funding reserved to help other organizations in the community.