GMF to manage $3 million endowment for women’s health from Columbia Health System

Milwaukee, Wis., May 24, 2019 – With a $3 million gift, Columbia Health System has established two permanent, philanthropic funds at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation that will continue the organization’s legacy of caring for local women, children and families.

The Columbia Health System Endowment Fund for Women’s Health will invest in research, education and direct services related to women’s health and social wellbeing across the lifespan in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties. The Foundation will administer the $2.75 million fund through its competitive grants process, supporting work that includes:

  • Preconception/family planning/adolescent health
  • Maternal health
  • Mental health and substance abuse services
  • Medical screenings, services and treatment
  • Domestic abuse services
  • Research innovations in women’s healthcare delivery

The Columbia Health System Endowment for The Family Enrichment Center of Ozaukee, Inc. will provide annual support for the Grafton-based nonprofit to direct toward greatest need. The fund was created with an initial $250,000 investment.

Columbia Health System oversaw Columbia Center Birth Hospital, which ceased operations in 2018, and provided board leadership to Columbia Hospital in Milwaukee for many years prior.

“We wanted to leave a legacy for Columbia Hospital and for the community we served in Ozaukee County,” said Candy Casey, who served as president and CEO of Columbia Health System for nearly two decades, through the closure. “We had $3 million to provide to our community and selected the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to establish two endowment funds to continue to make a positive impact for women and families.”

Founded in 1909, Columbia Hospital was a nonsectarian hospital whose contributions to medical research included the development of the “Milwaukee Brace” to treat scoliosis and the origins of the Milwaukee Blood Center, now Versiti. Columbia Health System became a co-sponsor with Ascension Health of Columbia St. Mary’s. Following the closure of Columbia Hospital, Columbia Center Birth Hospital moved to the CSM Ozaukee Campus, and continued to provide exceptional birthing services until its closure in July 2018.  Columbia Center Birth Hospital supported the Family Enrichment Center (FEC) for the past 10 years as part of their efforts to give back to the community.

In August, the Foundation will release a request for proposals supporting healthy birth outcomes, and the Columbia Health System Endowment Fund for Women’s Health will be a key source of funding. The FEC is expected to receive its first distribution from the designated fund before year’s end.

The FEC’s unique model provides a state-of-the-art facility and shared services for a host of nonprofits. According to Board President Jonah Turner, “this most generous endowment from Columbia Health System will not only assist the FEC with ongoing support but also establish an investment vehicle with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to help grow our vision. We look forward to creating a more efficient, collaborative, and service experience for our agency partners, local community and volunteers.”

Currently, the FEC’s agency partners include Advocates of Ozaukee, Alzheimer’s Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ozaukee, COPE Services, Energy Services, Habitat for Humanity Ozaukee, Independence First, Interfaith Caregivers of Ozaukee, Mel’s Charities and Ozaukee Family Service.

“The dedication to the care of women and families that defined Columbia Health System throughout its existence in Milwaukee and Ozaukee Counties is now secure for all time,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Not only is this gift a great tribute to the thousands of babies born and the countless families who received care through the years, the Foundation will ensure these new endowments support programs that improve community health far into the future.”

Individual, corporate and foundation donors are welcome to contribute to either fund to grow their impact. Contact Kristen Mekemson, vice president of development and philanthropic services at the Foundation, (414) 272-5805, to learn how.

About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is Wisconsin’s largest community foundation and was among the first established in the world. For more than a century, the Foundation has inspired philanthropy by connecting generous people to community needs that align with their interests. The Foundation was founded on the premise that generosity can unlock an individual’s potential and strengthen the community as a whole for everyone who lives here. We work in partnership with those who are committed to ensuring greater Milwaukee is a vibrant, economically thriving region that comprises welcoming and inclusive communities providing opportunity, prosperity and a high quality of life for all.  | @GrMKEFdn  |