Vitalyst Health Foundation has partnered with the Arizona Community Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona and The NARBHA Institute to award Innovation Grants totaling $500,000 to four Arizona nonprofits. These grants will fund projects that have a direct impact on building healthy communities around the state.

“Vitalyst’s Innovation Grants are awarded each year to support projects that use breakthrough approaches to address community issues,” said Suzanne Pfister, president and CEO of Vitalyst Health Foundation. “And while the projects we’re funding are extremely unique, they all have one unifying factor — they address the health of a community by impacting the social determinants of health.”

2018 Innovation Grants were awarded to the following Arizona nonprofits: 

White Mountain Apache Tribe – Ndee Bikiyaa (The People’s Farm) received a $125,000 grant in partnership with The NARBHA Institute for the Ndee (Apache) Community Food Pipeline Project. The project will create a tribal food safety policy that reinvigorates the community’s capacity to produce, package and sell wild-harvested and traditionally-farmed foods. Creating new opportunities for tribal economic growth and re-establishing traditional food access is a key step towards healthier lives among approximately 12,000 tribal members.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) received a $125,000 grant in partnership with the Arizona Community Foundation to advance the Demand2Learn work to transform disciplinary policies that disproportionately affect people of color. ACLU will be partnering with Black Mothers Forum, Morning Star Leaders, Inc., and Rising Youth Theatre to become peers and co-leaders in the movement to keep kids in schools, improve students’ physical and mental health and ultimately provide for greater economic stability. 

Flowers and Bullets Collective received a grant for $125,000 in partnership with the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona to transform a vacant 10-acre school property into a sustainable, culturally relevant food production hub. Flowers and Bullets Collective will partner with the University of Arizona Community and School Garden Program and the YWCA to decrease diet- and environment-related health disparities. The community-designed and operated hub will help propel the Barrio Centro neighborhood toward a more resilient, sustainable and hopeful future. 

Sonoran Prevention Works received a $125,000 grant to support advocacy and education for syringe access programs – a proven harm reduction strategy in response to the opioid crisis and rising hepatitis-C and HIV infection rates. Sonoran Prevention Works will partner with the University of Arizona College of Medicine Tucson and Creosote Partners to destigmatize syringe access programs and understand the comprehensive needs of people who inject drugs. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office will also work with Sonoran Prevention Works to implement a needle stick prevention program and to educate law enforcement on injection drug use. These partnerships will work to support policy change that treats substance use as a public health issue.