Our History

The Healthcare Initiative Foundation was established as a 509(a)(3) grantmaking organization in 1973 as the Suburban Hospital Association (Md.) Foundation. In 1980 the scope of giving broadened and accordingly the name changed to the Suburban Maryland Health Foundation. The current name, Healthcare Initiative Foundation, dates from 2002. The Foundation operated anonymously until 2007, when the board hired the Foundation's first staff person to facilitate the grantmaking and begin to build a public presence. On July 1, 2012, the Healthcare Initiative Foundation transitioned from a 509(a)(3) charitable support organization to a 501(c)(3) private foundation.

Benefiting from a generally robust economy and exercising careful stewardship, the board of trustees progressively grew the Foundation's endowment distributing over $78 million since its inception. The Foundation has funded an array of organizations and activities each year, while retaining an exclusive focus on improving healthcare for residents of Montgomery County, Maryland.

Effective on July 1, 2012, the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) became a 501(c)(3) private foundation. This establishes the Foundation’s new designation as an independent entity after having been a charitable support organization for almost 40 years. As part of our transition and continuing commitment to healthcare in Montgomery County, HIF provided Suburban Hospital with a major gift in support of their current capital campaign. The Board of Trustees are eager to continue support for 501(c)(3) healthcare nonprofits that offer solutions to improve the quality and delivery of healthcare for residents of Montgomery County, Maryland, particularly programs and services that protect the safety-net for vulnerable citizens.

Our Vision

Our Mission

Our Beliefs

Our Board

Our Governance

Our governing documents, audit, Form 990 and conflict of interest policy are all available upon request.

Our Staff

Crystal Carr Townsend, President Crystal.Townsend@hifmc.org 

*The Healthcare Initiative Foundation is an equal opportunity/ADA compliant employer.

Recent news:

1) Community Foundations Join Forces to Support Health Safety-Net Transformation 

Collaborative funding will amplify the impact of foundation resources granted to research and design an enrollment system for Montgomery Cares, the health safety-net program that serves Montgomery County residents who are not eligible for state or federal health coverage.

Silver Spring, Md. — In an exceptional display of pro-active funding, a cohort of foundations that fund in Montgomery County has joined forces to support the design and implementation of an enrollment system for Montgomery Cares—the program that provides access to health care for 30,000 low-income Montgomery County residents who are not eligible for state or federal health coverage. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is transforming health care across the nation. These changes provide a tremendous opportunity to align county-funded health access programs like Montgomery Cares with federal and state health reform initiatives that promote efficient and effective health care systems. 

With leadership from the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) a group of funders including The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the Consumer Health Foundation, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, and the Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation, as well as the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, has come together to form the Montgomery County Funder Collaborative, an informal body that will enable foundations to amplify their impact by jointly funding projects. The group collaborates to consider the merits of a proposed project, and each participating foundation can choose to provide a small grant to support the project.

The first project to be funded through this collaborative approach is the design of a comprehensive enrollment system for Montgomery Cares. Founded in 2005, Montgomery Cares is a public-private partnership composed of 12 independent primary care clinics, five hospitals, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Primary Care Coalition (PCC). Long before the expansion of Medicaid or launch of insurance marketplaces created under the ACA, Montgomery County provided health care access for low-income, uninsured residents through Montgomery Cares.

While the ACA has extended access to health care to many, 60,000 low-income Montgomery County residents are ineligible to participate in Medicaid or the subsidized health plans offered through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange and will continue to rely on Montgomery Cares for much needed health services. Over the past several years the PCC and its partners have implemented significant steps to strengthen the network of safety-net clinics. “Developing a comprehensive enrollment system for Montgomery Cares is the next vital step in harmonizing Montgomery Cares with state and federal initiatives and transforming Montgomery Cares to function more effectively in this changing environment,” said Steve Galen, President and CEO of the Primary Care Coalition.

Currently, eligibility screening for Montgomery Cares is performed at each of the participating clinics, and there is no consistent process for screening individuals to determine if they are eligible for Medicaid or Qualified Health Plans now available through the Maryland Health Connection. With the $35,000 in joint funding from the foundation community, the Montgomery Cares partners will work together to explore different enrollment models and research the best design for a Montgomery Cares enrollment system. Once implemented the enrollment system will integrate with eligibility screening and enrollment for federal, state, and local health and social service programs to streamline the process. The ultimate goal is to improve consumer experiences and ensure that everyone receives the most appropriate health benefit for his/her situation. 

“MCDHHS along with PCC, the participating clinics and our Foundation partners has been leading an effort to map the next enhancement of Montgomery Cares,” said Uma Ahluwalia, director of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. “These changes are aimed at being responsive to new ACA requirements and current best practices. As a key funder, county government has a significant stake in a favorable outcome of this redesign.”  The partner organizations involved in Montgomery Cares are committed to providing a strong and viable safety-net health system in the community; a system capable of serving the uninsured and offering health care to newly insured residents regardless of their income, race, ethnicity, or country of origin. 

Over the years, the local funding community has made significant investments in the Montgomery County safety-net. “Just like our grantees, we as funders have a far greater impact collectively than independently. We see this type of collaboration as the first of many as we explore opportunities for supporting this transformative work and continue to invest in high-quality, comprehensive, and equitable health care for Montgomery County residents,” said Crystal Townsend, President of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation.

2) Healthcare Initiative Foundation Grant Supports Montgomery College Community Healthcare Nursing Scholarship Pilot

Through a new grant-funded collaboration, Montgomery College nursing students have worked with local healthcare clinics serving vulnerable residents, exposing future nurses to the community health field. Thanks to the generosity of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation, three Montgomery College nursing students earned a Community Healthcare Nursing Scholarship to complete their nursing degree, while caring for uninsured patients at Holy Cross Health Center and Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care.

“The involvement of students allows our patients to receive more one-on-one nursing care and education,” said Rachel Catrambone, RN, BSN, who worked with a clinical rotation student last spring. “… Nursing students can provide patients with education related to proper medication use, glucometers, and lifestyle changes to help treat or prevent chronic illnesses.” 

A primary goal of the project is to expose students to community health so that they can develop a better understanding of the workforce opportunities and ascertain a better understanding of the needs of vulnerable residents. The Community Healthcare Nursing Scholarship provided scholarships to second-year nursing students who spent seven-week clinical rotations at selected safety-net clinics participating in Montgomery Cares. Montgomery Cares is a public-private partnership that provides primary and preventive health services to low-income uninsured Montgomery County residents. It is composed of twelve clinics, five local hospitals, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, and the Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County (PCC). Other partners in the collaboration include The Universities at Shady Grove, which also is involving its nursing students in clinical rotations at local health centers. In addition, the PCC has worked to involve Montgomery Cares affiliated clinics with this pilot program and has facilitated learning collaboratives between the clinics and the schools to ensure that the needs of patients, students and the institutions are met.

“We encourage and facilitate collaborations like this one to boost the ability of our grantees to enhance the health care available to vulnerable Montgomery County residents,” said Crystal Carr Townsend, president of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation. “This project is enabling us to maximize our investments supporting both workforce capacity and the Montgomery Cares safety-net clinics.”

The $11,850 grant from the Healthcare Initiative Foundation also provides additional funds to cover the cost of recipients’ National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for licensure as a Registered Nurse, and it supported evaluation activities this spring to examine the experiences of participating students and clinics and chart next steps for the collaboration.  “We are grateful to the Healthcare Initiative Foundation for its generosity—and we look forward to a continuing partnership with the Primary Care Coalition and its affiliated clinics,” said Barbara Nubile, associate dean/director of nursing at Montgomery College. “This collaboration helps our nursing students complete their degrees, while it also addresses an anticipated long-term shortage of nurses in the region and positively impacts patients, particularly the uninsured.”

3) Healthcare Initiative Foundation Awards Grant for Scholarships to Support Students in Nursing, Social Work & Pharmacy Programs at USG

The Healthcare Initiative Foundation of Montgomery County awarded The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) a $400,000 grant, which will be divided into 210 scholarships over two years to support students in the following programs: University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) School of Social Work; University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) School of Nursing and School of Pharmacy, and UMB’s Master’s in Social Work program. The primary goal of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation is to enhance and expand the workforce development in the healthcare field within Montgomery County. The scholarship will create a healthcare workforce pipeline, helping students transition from the classroom into the field work-ready.

In addition, the grant will support four innovative initiatives to help prepare the scholarship recipients to meet the health and wellness needs of the community and connect them with future employers in their professional fields. The first initiative will help 17 students learn interdisciplinary practices, rules, and responsibilities, and gain experience at the Mercy Health Clinic. The Mercy Health Clinic is a free, not-for-profit, non-sectarian, community based primary healthcare provider serving uninsured, low-income adult residents in Montgomery County. The second initiative will place 193 students in clinic rotations at Montgomery County non-profits in the healthcare field which will enhance the students’ knowledge of community health and develop a greater understanding for the community.

In an effort to respond to the pressing need for culturally competent social workers with experience serving children under the age of 12, a cohort of 12 social work scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to complete their field placements with non-profits serving this age group. The third initiative will establish a Bilingual Writing Mentor Program to support the academic success of 20 students whose first language is not English. The fourth initiative will focus on establishing professional mentorships with 10 scholarship recipients to better connect students with local networks and encourage them to work here in Montgomery County after attaining their degrees. 

“Montgomery County is an amazingly diverse community and we need to ensure we have a healthcare delivery system that supports the needs of those we serve,” said Crystal Carr Townsend, president of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation. “That’s why our primary goal
is to increase the number of culturally competent healthcare professionals that will be well prepared to succeed in settings such as community-based healthcare clinics. We’re excited about the progress we will be able to make through this wonderful partnership with The Universities at Shady Grove.”

“This grant from the Healthcare Initiative Foundation will provide great opportunities for many students at USG who are in these healthcare programs and represent the future of health care delivery in Montgomery County,” said Dr. Stewart Edelstein, executive director of The Universities at Shady Grove and associate vice chancellor for the University System of Maryland. “We’re honored that the Foundation chose to invest in USG and especially in the students that will benefit from these funds.”