Healthcare Foundation of Wilson plans $22M grant for after-school program

Healthcare Foundation of Wilson to Invest $22 Million for After-School Positive Youth Development 

WILSON, N.C. (Oct. 30, 2018) – Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has approved $22 million in funding for a strategic initiative to create a new after-school program. The site of the programming will be in a central location, and the after-school experiences will be focused on making a positive impact in the lives of middle school students in Wilson. The grant includes the planning and building of a place and space for youth as well as transportation support to increase access to activities and quality programs, which will be designed to enrich participants physically, emotionally and academically during out-of-school time.

“By making this investment in our first strategic initiative, we believe we can maximize the positive, direct impact our funding has on health outcomes to help move the dial on serious concerns for today’s youth, who are also the future of our community,” said Vance Forbes, board chair of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson.

Following the completion of a viability study, several project partners are working to solidify key elements such as location, facility needs, necessary program resources, and expertise. The City of Wilson plans to provide a centrally located, easily accessible site for the program’s future home. Wilson Family YMCA, utilizing regional and national YMCA resources and expertise, will manage and sustain the program. Wilson County Schools plans to provide office space in the six public middle schools to host grant-funded project coordinators on site to assist with logistics and communication with youth, families and educators.

“We are excited about partnering to provide important and unique experiences available to all middle school students, which can help them choose positive paths that will benefit them over their lifetime,” said Denise O’Hara, executive director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. “The opportunities for prevention and positive health outcomes are significant at such a critical age for youth, and our program partners are committed to doing what it takes to provide high quality, effective after-school programs.”

Collaboration has been and will continue to be key for the successful development and sustainability of effective after-school programming for middle school students. “We are grateful for Wilson Forward’s early role in this initiative, which has been instrumental in building strong partnerships and momentum,” said O’Hara. “Wilson Forward’s approach puts collaboration at the core of everything, and that mindset is important as we all work to improve our community’s health and wellness.”

The scope and goals of the proposed program align with Healthcare Foundation of Wilson’s four funding areas, which include the prevention of obesity, adolescent pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Over 1700 middle school students and more than 500 parents and community members provided feedback during the planning and evaluation process of the viability study, which was jointly led by Healthcare Foundation of Wilson and Wilson Forward. Youth interests and possible barriers to participation were key findings that will help drive the next steps of planning and collaboration for the initiative.

“We’ve learned a lot about what our community youth want and need, and the list includes a variety of both team and individual fitness opportunities, career exploration, hands-on learning with computers and technology, cooking classes, painting or drawing, tutoring and homework help,” said O’Hara. “We are eager to provide our local youth with activities of interest, opportunities to improve their health and wellness, and experiences that can lead them in directions that they possibly have never even imagined.”

About Healthcare Foundation of Wilson:

Healthcare Foundation of Wilson was established in 2014 to support the health care needs of the greater Wilson community. The foundation is committed to improving the health and wellness of all people by investing in strategic initiatives with measurable outcomes. To learn more, call 252-281-2105 or visit