June 4, 2021

Letter from Leadership: The Impact of a Grant

When I sit down to write this letter every quarter, I imagine that I am writing to the people who benefit from our grants. What gives them hope? What causes them concern? Because at the Community Foundation, our staff sits at the intersection of resources and need, of real-life everyday challenges and the potential for a better tomorrow.

Earlier this year, we made a grant to a nationwide program called FUSE: Frequent Users Systems Engagement, which recently launched in Chattanooga. This program is a partnership between the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, healthcare providers, and insurers — with a focus on providing stable housing and counseling to Chattanoogans who struggle with mental illness and addiction. An estimated 40% of inmates in area prisons are repeat offenders who are caught in a vicious cycle of incarceration, release, hospitalization, and repeat offenses. Not only is this devastating to their families, it also costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

FUSE is anchored by a proven methodology with a strong track record of success, providing an “off-ramp” for vulnerable people. It provides counseling, recovery treatment, and supportive housing options that would not otherwise be available. In response to our grant and others, the Hamilton County Commissioners voted to match funds from local foundations dollar-for-dollar because they saw the potential of this program not only to save taxpayers money, but to save lives.

This is data-informed, strategy-driven, community-focused grant making in action. Just as importantly, it gives us the opportunity as a community to say to our neediest neighbors: hold on, you’re not alone, we are with you. You can build a brighter future for yourself and your family.

Of course, none of this would be possible without your collective investments of time, talents, and treasure. As we work to address the root causes of the most challenging issues facing local citizens, we believe that the impact of a single grant can reverberate far beyond the initial investment. And that ultimately, together we can help build a thriving, just, compassionate, and equitable place to call home.

Proudly standing beside you in gratitude and service,