More Than the Sum: Combining funds to make a bigger impact | The New York Community Trust
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July 11, 2019   |   By The New York Community Trust
More Than the Sum: Combining funds to make a bigger impact
Students at workshop

ON THE FRONT LINES: Much like its work to train social work students like these to help people experiencing depression and thoughts of suicide, the National Council for Behavioral Health will use our grant to expand its youth mental health initiative by placing social work students in communities with high rates of opioid addiction.

People with a wide range of charitable interests ask The New York Community Trust to help them make an impact. And they all want the biggest bang for their buck.

To best serve these donors—and our region—we look closely at the purpose of each fund and weave them together to meet the needs of nonprofits doing important work. Below are two examples.

‘Unsung heroes and heroines’ battling the opioid epidemic across the U.S.

Every day, the opioid epidemic kills about 130 people in the U.S. At the same time, fentanyl-involved overdose deaths are skyrocketing. But with training, social workers could be life-savers for those addicted to opioids.

Donors who understood the power of social work created three legacy funds in The Trust. Lois and Samuel Silberman left funds to train and educate social workers. Robert and Ellen Popper were interested in the intersection of social work and health care, and Harriett Bartlett wanted to help workers in the field address social causes. And these donors wanted to have a far-reaching impact.

By combining their funds, we’re helping forge a new partnership between schools of social work and health providers to battle the opioid crisis. The National Council for Behavioral Health will use $1.1 million to work with the Council on Social Work Education to train students to work in prevention, treatment, and support for those struggling with opioid and other substance use disorders.

“Social workers are unsung heroes and heroines who play a critical role in solving the opioid epidemic,” says Chuck Ingoglia, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “They are saving lives and bringing recovery to people caught in the cycle of addiction,” he says.

Fund venn diagram

Featured funds may have additional purposes.

Finding treatments for teens who face hearing loss

Two funds were created in The Trust to help find cures for diseases. A third provides funding for research into the causes and cures of deafness, and the fourth focuses on alleviating children’s diseases. (See infographic.) Trust staff identified a project at Hospital for Special Surgery’s Kathryn O. and Alan Greenberg Center for Skeletal Dysplasias that would combine these funds to address a complication of an incurable bone disorder.

Skeletal dysplasias are hereditary conditions that cause dwarfism and can lead to other medical problems. For those with one type of the condition, osteogenesis imperfecta, bones are brittle, bowed, and prone to fractures. The condition is incurable, but with care, people with the disease often lead healthy, productive lives.

Approximately 50 percent of those with a type of osteogenesis imperfecta experience hearing loss that typically starts in the late teens. Common treatments, such as bone-anchored hearing aids and surgery, often are not an option. With our $450,000, Hospital for Special Surgery will study ways to prevent hearing loss, including exploring the effectiveness of a drug that slows or prevents bone loss.

“Research funding for rare diseases is tough to come by,” says Irfan Hasan, The Trust’s program director for Health and Behavioral Health. “We’re grateful our donors left legacy gifts that bring hope and resources to the toughest problems.”

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