WASH Clinics – Strategic vision

Strategic grant vision for Wilson County students.

Grant Focus Areas Update

The Board of Directors of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson recently completed a strategic planning process and updated our funding focus areas for the upcoming responsive grant cycle, which begins January 2, 2024.

The new focus areas below are reflective of some of the greatest health and wellness opportunities in our community.
Updated Focus Areas:

  • Access to Healthcare
  • Alcohol and substance misuse in youth
  • Healthy Eating / Active Living
  • Mental / Behavioral Health

Learn more to prepare for the upcoming grant cycle by visiting our website and reviewing the following:

Grant Guidelines
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Apply

We look forward to receiving great ideas and opportunities as we receive Letters of Interest (LOIs), which is the first step in the responsive grant cycle. In order to be considered, all LOIs must be submitted online through the Grant Cycle Portal.

Three New Strategic Grants Approved

Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has granted $30 million in strategic initiatives since shifting its focus in 2018 to invest a larger percentage of funds in proactive, collaborative work to support sustainable opportunities.

The foundation remains committed to providing grants in two ways — responsive and strategic. Responsive grants are funded annually through an application process, and strategic grant recipients are selected through an invitation process.

As we continue our grantmaking in the community, we are working with partners to define objectives and increase our impact by investing in solutions that address Wilson’s greatest health concerns.

Barton College was awarded $732,000 for a planning grant to conceptually develop a School of Health Sciences program to improve the availability of health care professionals in the Wilson community. During the planning stage, Barton College will work toward developing new academic curriculum programming, engage an architecture firm to identify and develop a plan for facility needs, expand on community partnerships with a focus on local recruitment and retention strategies, and identify clinical pathways needed in an effort to help local students serve their community and pursue a variety of healthcare careers.

The SPOT received $900,000 to prepare a 10-acre lot that was donated by Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. The SPOT plans to use the grant to develop the infrastructure needed for a future sports complex which will serve youth in a variety of ways by accommodating the organization’s everyday use, recreational sports and family activities.

Wilson County Health Department has been approved for ongoing strategic funding for a multi-year initiative in collaboration with Wilson County Schools to add Wilson Area School-Based Health (WASH) clinics at every Wilson County public school with the goal of ensuring that every student has access to healthcare when needed during the school year. Recent strategic funding from Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has supported the opening of the WASH Clinic at Fike High School, moving the Beddingfield High WASH clinic from a temporary facility into the school building, and plans to open a WASH clinic at Darden Middle School. Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has provided $2.4 million in grant funding to support the initial five WASH clinics.

Grantee Spotlight:
Y-GIG and The Foundation YMCA

Funding was provided from 2018 through 2023 as part of a multi-year strategic grant of $27.7 million to support the construction costs of the new YMCA along with the launch and initial operation of Y-GIG (Youth Gather, Interact & Grow) — an afterschool program for middle school youth in Wilson County.
Y-GiG offers enriching and engaging activities in five focus areas:

  • Academics
  • Arts and Humanities
  • College and Careers
  • Health and Wellness
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
Transportation for Y-GIG activities is provided from and back to the public middle schools in Wilson County.
Learn more about enrollment and Y-GIG opportunities at the Foundation YMCA.

Gratitude for Grantees – 2023 Grant Recipients

During this season of giving thanks, we want to give an extra shout out of appreciation to all our 2023 responsive grant recipients. When you see these leaders out and about in the community, join us in thanking them for all they do for our Wilson community.

Paula Benson Selected as Future Director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson

Following a national executive search, Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has selected Paula Benson as its future director. Benson, who has announced she is leaving her role as executive director of Wilson Forward, will begin her new position in January 2024 following the retirement of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson Executive Director Denise O’Hara, who has led the foundation since its inception in 2014.

Benson has served in numerous leadership roles for organizations in Wilson, including serving as a board member of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson, and she has worked with local, regional and statewide partners on issues and opportunities in education, workforce development, health and wellness.

Prior to her role at Wilson Forward, Benson worked at SAS Institute and Ernst & Young, where she began her career as a certified public accountant. Benson earned her bachelor’s degrees in business administration and economics at Meredith College.

Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has invested more than $57 million in the Wilson community with a steadfast focus on providing responsive and strategic funding for projects that meet current needs and provide promising, sustainable solutions to improve the health and well-being of Wilson County residents.

“Wilson is my home, and I am excited to be the next leader of an organization that has already made a tremendous impact and transformed our community’s response to some of the most significant opportunities and challenges,” said Paula Benson future director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. “It will be a privilege to serve an organization that is dedicated to making Wilson an even better place while honoring many generations of individuals dedicated to the well-being of our community.”

Denise O’Hara Announces Retirement

After nearly a decade as the Executive Director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson, Denise O’Hara plans to retire at the end of 2023.

O’Hara has led the foundation since its inception in 2014. Working with the founding board members, she charted a path for strategic and responsive grantmaking to support initiatives that address the top health concerns in the greater Wilson community.

Under her leadership, more than $57 million has been invested in the Wilson community with a steadfast focus on funding projects that meet current needs and provide promising, sustainable solutions to improve the health and well-being of Wilson County residents.

Following a national executive search, the board is selecting the candidate to lead the foundation. In the coming months, the future director will participate in strategic planning activities as Healthcare Foundation of Wilson explores future opportunities to invest in our community.

Healthcare Foundation of Wilson Announces 13 Grant Awards

WILSON, N.C. (June 29, 2023) – Thirteen new grants have been awarded by Healthcare Foundation of Wilson to support community projects that focus on solutions to some of the greatest health challenges for Wilson.

Each year, Healthcare Foundation of Wilson provides responsive grant funding to organizations in the greater Wilson community, and the 2023 awards total more than $368,000 in funding for initiatives that focus on solutions with measurable outcomes to address four of the community’s greatest health concerns, including adolescent pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The following grants have been approved to fund initiatives that address one or more of the four areas of health concern:

Responsive Grants for 2023

“We remain committed to providing grant funding for projects that address the greatest health concerns in our community,” said Denise O’Hara, executive director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. “Our responsive grant funding since 2016 totals more than $7.2 million, and our total community funding-to-date is $56.2 million, which includes strategic grant funding and financial support for hospital improvements.”

Learn more about the 2023 Responsive Grant Awards.

Y-GIG Afterschool Program Launched; Foundation YMCA Now Open Downtown

Following a summer sampler of activities for middle school youth, the Foundation YMCA kicked off Y-GIG (Youth Gather, Interact & Grow). The innovative afterschool program for middle school students started in fall 2022 at the new Foundation YMCA location in downtown Wilson with a wide range of activities such as cooking, robotics, literary chats, and web design, which were provided in collaboration with community partners.

Y-GIG and the new Foundation YMCA facility are part of a bold and strategic funding commitment of more than $25 million made by Healthcare Foundation of Wilson in 2018. The Foundation YMCA provides a special space and place in the heart of Wilson for the much-needed afterschool experiences that are now offered through the Y-GIG program for middle school youth from across the county.

“It is incredibly exciting to see our leadership’s vision becoming a reality with the launch of Y-GIG and the opening of Foundation YMCA,” said Denise O’Hara. “The promising outcomes are countless, and we look forward to seeing the many ways that Wilson youth and our entire community will benefit from the foundation’s investment in the creation of sustainable, high quality afterschool experiences and this positive, new place of health and wellness.”

Y-GIG Spring Session Starting Soon

The spring session of Y-GIG is scheduled to start March 13. Youth who enroll for Y-GIG will select activities from a menu of options for a 10-week session. Enriching activities are offered with a focus on academics, arts and humanities, college and career, health and wellness and STEM (science technology, engineering and mathematics).

Activities are provided onsite at the Foundation YMCA as well as within the community through partnerships with talented individuals and business leaders.

All middle school youth in Wilson County are eligible to enroll in Y-GIG. The Foundation YMCA offers a sliding scale rate, and scholarships are available. Students also have the option to select individual programs if they cannot attend full-time, and families can pay monthly or by session.

Y-GIG youth coordinators are assigned to each of the five middle schools in Wilson County, and transportation is provided from the five public schools to the Foundation YMCA and back to the schools.

Visit wilsonymca.org to learn more about enrollment for the next Y-GIG session.

Grant Funding Expands Healthy Experiences
for Youth

Wilson youth were on the move in 2022 with a healthy taste of new activities thanks to grants awarded to The Arc of Wilson, Love A Sea Turtle, The SPOT and Wilson Police Athletic League.

Over the summer, Wilson Police Athletic League (PAL) offered a menu of camp experiences that kicked off with a Culinary Camp session during spring break. Youth made dough from scratch and prepared a meal from start to finish! The chef from Wilson Community College included food and kitchen safety tips as part of the experience, and the PAL volunteers teamed up with the youth for the kitchen creations. The monthly summer camp sessions featured football, cheerleading, baseball, softball and volleyball.

The Arc of Wilson added daily exercises activities at Camp Sunshine for youth with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Camp participants also received healthy snacks and lessons about healthy choices.

Wilson youth also enjoyed a two-week sailing camp along with concurrent options for golf thanks to a grant-funded partnership between Love A Sea Turtle (LAST)  and The SPOT. The team expanded on their previously funded WOW (Wilson on Wheels) activities with new WOW (Wilson on Water) activities and other unique experiences to help develop physical fitness skills along with self-confidence.

Grant seekers have already submitted letters of inquiry to the foundation and are in the process of completing applications for 2023 funding. Healthcare Foundation of Wilson will announce new responsive grant awards in the summer. Learn more about what we fund and the responsive grant cycle.