Over 30 years ago Ms. Ima Hogg, being the visionary that she was, designated funding for services to address the mental health needs of children, youth and families in Houston and Harris County. In 2009 the Hogg Foundation funded eight agencies to support children, youth and families utilizing school and community-based resources and early childhood prevention and intervention.

In the final year of this grant initiative, grantees requested technical assistance around evaluation, outcomes and sustainability. Earlier this month the eight grantees met to network and participate in a training opportunity addressing these critical topics. (A special thanks to the DePelchin Children’s Center for hosting us!) The foundation’s own Dr. Michele Guzmán, assistant director of research and evaluation, provided guidance to the grantees around the importance of evaluation and reporting outcomes. The foundation’s National Advisory Council member, Domingo Barrios, facilitated a very interactive dialogue around strategies for maintaining quality community-based services and sustainability. The ongoing support of programs and how to continue services once a grant has ended is challenging for both funders and grantees. This meeting addressed this significant issue facing grantees and promoted an important discussion around the topic.

Funding for social services, including mental health, is limited. Yet, there are plenty of services and programs that need funding. Usually funders would like to fund grant programs for longer periods of time, yet we are faced with the challenges of more demand than supply. If we fund programs for longer periods of time it can limit our ability to assist in program development and new service delivery models.

Funders and service providers – how are you addressing this issue? I would love to hear your thoughts about this important topic in philanthropy.