Synergy Initiative Grants

Since 2000, The Health Foundation has made 95 grants to 23 different organizations for 18 Synergy projects through the Synergy Initiative. Below is more information about all of The Health Foundation’s Synergy Initiative Projects.

Round Four Projects

Partnership for Refugee Wellness – January 2015 to March 2017 – Total Granted: $667,417
ReImagine North of Main – January 2015 to Present – Total Granted: $2,095,328
Worcester HEARS – January 2015 to Present – Total Granted: $1,875,480
Worcester Regional Food Hub – January 2015 to Present – Total Granted: $2,574,537

Round Three Projects
A Better Life (ABL) - January 2011 to December 2017 - Total Granted: $3,113,628

The Health Foundation provided over $3 million to the Worcester Housing Authority (WHA) to enable families to achieve economic self-sufficiency and transition out of public housing. WHA aimed to break the persistent cycle of poverty and public housing reliance and transform the lives of its residents with comprehensive wrap-around services that promote a strong and self-sufficient family unit.

  • The goal of this project was to enable families to achieve economic self-sufficiency and transition out of public housing.
  • As of 2019, 78 families had used their escrow, averaging nearly $10,000 per family, to move out of public housing.
  • The employment rate at Great Brook Valley and Curtis Apartments jumped by 23% (from 39% in 2014 to 62% in 2019).
  • In July 2014, “An Act to Foster Economic Independence” was approved by the state legislature. It included a provision that required the MA DHCD to allow the Worcester Housing Authority (WHA) to operate ABL in its state-subsidized housing properties, which represent about 20% (493) of its units. In April 2015, DHCD approved the administrative details to implement the work/education requirement.
  • Advocacy efforts at the state level have led to system changes to sustain and replicate ABL. In May 2015, ABL was selected by DHCD as an innovative model program to replicate at other Housing Authorities. In March 2019, nearly $1 million was awarded by DHCD to enable the Gloucester, New Bedford, and Taunton Housing Authorities to implement ABL.

A Better Life Final Evaluation Report July 2017

News
Baker-Polito Administration Awards $1 Million to Expand Economic Independence Programming to Three Housing Authorities
Press Release, March 21, 2019
State’s A Better Life program expands to New Bedford
South Coast Today, March 22, 2019
Tenant employment rate rises in Worcester housing projects
Worcester Telegram & Gazette, March 13, 2019
◊ Top HUD official salutes Worcester’s efforts to aid displaced Puerto Ricans
Worcester Telegram & Gazette, August 29, 2018
State puts up $389k to expand WHA’s ‘Better Life’ program
Worcester Telegram & Gazette, September 18, 2017


The Compass Project - January 2011 to December 2013 - Total Granted: $967,595

The Health Foundation provided approximately $1 million to fund The Compass Project to prevent youth and young adult homelessness. A network of providers in Worcester who serve youth and young people at risk of homelessness was created and continues to this day.

Under the CMS Section 1115 waiver that was approved for Massachusetts in November 2016, case management services will continue to be provided for MassHealth recipients, which means additional support for many of these young people from July 1, 2017-June 30, 2022.


Improving Access to Health - January 2011 to December 2015 - Total Granted: $947,195

The Health Foundation provided over $900,000 to the Improving Access to Health project. Milford Regional Medical Center (MRMC) identified concerns about access to primary care in its service area and the impact it was having on the emergency department. MRMC brought together a group of community organizations that determined that a community health center would improve local access. The Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, which was already seeing several hundred patients from the Milford area at its Worcester and Framingham sites, agreed to construct a satellite in Milford.

  • Milford Regional Medical Center (MRMC) identified concerns about access to primary care in its service area and the impact it was having on the emergency department. MRMC brought together a group of community organizations that determined that a community health center would improve local access. The Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, which was already seeing several hundred patients from the Milford area at its Worcester and Framingham sites, agreed to construct a satellite in Milford.
  • Funding from The Health Foundation, together with $400,000 from the MetroWest Health Foundation, enabled the construction of a satellite health center in Milford, which opened in March 2014.
  • In the first year, more than 3,800 patients (over 13,000 visits) were seen for primary care services. Of these, approximately 500 patients transferred from the health centers in either Framingham or Worcester, freeing up access at those sites.


Worcester Initiative for Supported Reentry (WISR)- January 2011 to August 2017 - Total Granted: $2,322,347

The Health Foundation provided over $2.3 million to Advocates, Inc. for WISR, Wiser Men and Wiser Women to reduce recidivism among men and women who were formerly incarcerated, thereby improving public safety and public health. Key elements in achieving this goal included access to social and health services, housing placement, and employment readiness and job placement.

  • The goal of these projects was to reduce recidivism among men and women who were formerly incarcerated, thereby improving public safety and public health. Key elements in achieving this goal included access to social and health services, housing placement, employment readiness and job placement.
  • The recidivism rate among WISR participants three years post-release was 20.8%, a reduction of 47% relative to a historical comparison group; a savings of more than $375,000 for a 59% return on investment based on one-year incarceration costs.
  • 96% of participants were housed immediately upon release, and the remaining 4% were housed within one day of release. 97% of participants in need of Medicaid insurance were enrolled. 93% of participants referred to substance abuse treatment services accessed them and 75% of participants referred to mental health services accessed those services.
  • The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office also received $750,000 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance in 2014, one of only seven grants awarded nationally, to implement Wiser Men, a region-wide reentry program modeled after WISR. The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office received a Bureau of Justice Assistance $244,000 grant in July 2018 to implement the WISR model.
  • Advocacy efforts with state officials resulted in reentry programming being included in the state’s 2018 Criminal Justice Reform legislation. The state allocated $7 million from FY19-21 to pilot reentry services in Worcester and Middlesex Counties.
  • Senate Bill #2021, “An Act relative to motor vehicle license suspension” was signed into law in March 2016, thereby repealing the automatic suspension of drivers’ licenses and accompanying fines for people convicted of a drug crime.

WISR Final Report January 2017

Round Two Projects
Home Again - January 2007 to June 2013 - Total Granted: $2,205,837

Home Again received over $2.2 million from The Health Foundation to end adult chronic homelessness in Worcester using the “housing first” approach.

  • Home Again documented the efficacy of the “Housing First” approach, including savings in healthcare costs that exceeded the cost of this intervention. Massachusetts then transitioned all of its housing supports from sheltering to housing first.
  • In January 2011, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness recognized Worcester as the first city of its size to effectively end chronic adult homelessness.
  • Since 2011, funding for case management/community supports has been provided by all Medicaid behavioral health providers.
  • Massachusetts received a federal planning grant in 2011 to address serving “dual eligibles” with Medicaid and Medicare funds for vulnerable populations. Services began in 2013 and under the federal CMS section 1115 waiver that was approved for Massachusetts in 2016, these services will continue through June 2022.
  • Funding for occupancy costs through HUD and state funding, combined with Social Security income has resulted in several million dollars to pay the rent for these individuals who have been housed.

Home Again Final Evaluation Report 2011


Hunger-Free & Healthy - January 2007 to December 2012 - Total Granted: $1,557,443

Hunger-Free & Healthy received $1.5 million in funding from The Health Foundation for a variety of approaches to improve local access to healthy food and to reduce hunger in Worcester.

  • A partnership with the Worcester Public Schools improved the quality of meals offered to 25,000 students. In 2018, 21 schools in the district out of only 100 schools across the state, provided free breakfast after the bell.
  • A SNAP outreach worker was hired and worked with eligible individuals and families to submit more than 550 SNAP applications, of which, more than 60% were approved.
  • Hunger-Free & Healthy participants worked for the passage of the School Nutrition Bill that initiated the creation of a statewide Food Policy Council, which remains actively engaged in food-related advocacy efforts.

Hunger-Free & Healthy Final Evaluation Report February 2012


Choices: A Program for Youth at Risk in Webster/Dudley - January 2007 to December 2011 - Total Granted: $734,898

The Choices Program was a comprehensive approach of effective techniques and strategies that directed at-risk young people in Dudley/Webster toward positive alternatives. Through a referral network of linkages by local clubs with school, police, courts, other juvenile justice agencies, social service agencies and community organizations, youth were recruited, needs and interests assessed, support teams created and club programs offered as a diversion from at risk activity.

The Winchendon Project - January 2007 to December 2012 - Total Granted: $1,486,962

In an effort to address mental health and substance abuse issues among 6th-12th graders (approximately 760 students) attending Murdock Middle High School (MMHS) in Winchendon, MA, The Winchendon Project (TWP) was developed in 2007 and implemented from 2008-2012. TWP provided prevention and early intervention for youth suffering from behavioral health problems by increasing awareness and providing access to services and programs in school and the community.

Over the course of the project, TWP experienced a number of accomplishments including:

  • Development of systematic processes for coordinating services that moved students smoothly through the system from referral to treatment to follow-up in a non-disruptive, highly confidential manner.
  • Yearly increases in the amount of behavioral health services provided (increased from 160 individual clinical hours to 589 individual clinical hours).
  • Integration of behavioral health services into the school-based health center in 2011.
  • The Learning Supports Facilitator component achieved the broad objective for which it was designed- catalyzing a movement toward an academic environment in which risk and protective factors, and strategies to address them, are now at the forefront of educators’ minds.

The Winchendon Project Final Evaluation report February 2012


Women's HIV/Domestic Violence Initiative - January 2007 to December 2009 - Total Granted: $620,089

The Women’s HIV/Sexual Violence Initiative was a collaborative effort among five partner agencies: AIDS Project Worcester (APW), Family Health Center of Worcester, Inc., Pernet Family Health Service, Rape Crisis Center of Central MA, and YWCA Daybreak. The premise of the project was to address the high rates of HIV/AIDS disease among women in Central Massachusetts; with specific attention to women who have a history of or are experiencing sexual violence.

APW staff worked in the community to educate women about the risk factors related to sexual violence, STDs and HIV/AIDS. Project staff visited more than 50 agencies over the course of this project and screened more than 1,000 women. In 2009, 480 women were screened and 147 participated in the program.

Round One Projects
Central Massachusetts Oral Health Initiative (CMOHI) - November 2000 - June 2011 - Total Granted: $3,643,840

The Central Massachusetts Oral Health Initiative (CMOHI) began in early 2000 in response to the urgent need for improved access to oral health care in the Central Massachusetts region. Of particular concern were low-income, uninsured children and families who lacked access to preventive and restorative oral health treatment. CMOHI partners sought to increase available oral health services while removing barriers to such services.

CMOHI developed into a broad-based partnership of 25 state and local organizations. The contributions from these partners led to improvements in access to oral health care for under-served populations in the City of Worcester and Southern Worcester County, while also providing lessons for oral health initiatives in other communities in Massachusetts and around the country.

Some of the key accomplishments of CMOHI include:

  • Approval for seven-year accreditation by the American Dental Association of the Dental Residency program at UMass Medical School.
  • Increased student participation in school-based prevention services.
  • Expanded access to treatment at Family Health Center, Great Brook Valley Health Center and Quinsigamond Community College.
  • Oral surgery services returned to Hahnemann Hospital; and the creation of education materials for physicians on adult emergent and urgent oral health issues.

Public policy changes achieved include the implementation of the MassHealth dental third-party administrator, caseload setting capability and restoration of adult dental benefits.

CMOHI Journal of Public Health Dentistry 2010
2009 Oral Health Impact Report
CMOHI Final Report November 2008


Child Abuse Prevention and Protection Collaborative - January 2001 to November 2007 - Total Granted: $1,961,778

The Health Foundation provided nearly $2 million in funding for this collaborative effort to develop a coordinated, community-based effort to prevent child abuse and neglect, establish a continuum of care for victims and their families, and advocate for legislation to address shaken baby syndrome and provide for sexual assault nurse examiners.

  • The collaborative developed a coordinated, community-based effort to prevent child abuse and neglect, establish a continuum of care for victims and families, and advocate for legislation to address shaken baby syndrome and provide for sexual assault nurse examiners.
  • As a result of the successful implementation of a Shaken Baby Syndrome Campaign at two area hospitals, Massachusetts now requires that all birthing parents receive education about shaken baby syndrome.
  • The state continues to fund sexual assault nurse examiners, totaling more than $30M through FY20.

Child Abuse Prevention and Protection Collaborative Final Evaluation Report May 2007


Oral Health Initiative of North Central Massachusetts (OHINCM) - January 2001 to June 2008 - Total Granted: $2,253,672

The goal of OHINCM was to increase access to dental services and improve the oral health of underserved residents of North Central Massachusetts. A number of comprehensive, integrated and collaborative strategies were implemented in the areas of access, provision of services, education and advocacy.

The outcomes of this initiative were substantial. They include:

  • The establishment and expansion of sites for dental services at three CHC, locations in Fitchburg, Gardner and Leominster and through the ACTION Health Services program for the homeless and publicly housed populations.
  • School-based dental services provided at 16 schools in five districts for grades K-5 and continue as of 2010.
  • Mt. Wachusett Community College established a Dental Hygiene program.
  • Working with the Oral Health Advocacy Task Force resulted in significant changes including the restoration of MassHealth adult dental health benefits, increased reimbursement rates for children and adults, funding for a third-party administrator for the MassHealth dental program; increased funding for DPH’s Office of Oral Health and funding for the BEST Oral Health Program, a preschool oral health project.

2009 Oral Health Impact Report


Together for Kids (TFK) - May 2001 to June 2009 - Total Granted: $1,779,018

The Health Foundation’s funding of TFK totaled $1.8 million for the development of a mental health consultation model to aid the social-emotional development of preschoolers who presented with challenging behaviors in child care settings.

  • The TFK model demonstrated that with an average of 24 hours of behavioral health consultation for teachers and parents, children’s challenging behaviors and developmental skills significantly improved as compared to those in matched nonintervention preschools.
  • Preschool expulsions were reduced to near zero in the intervention preschools.
  • Advocacy efforts resulted in the state proving $19M in mental health consultation funding in preschool settings from 2008 to 2020.

TFK Final Evaluation Report March 2006
2009 Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development Study