Employee generosity leads to ‘new idea in giving’

BFWatts sizedUAB President Ray Watts, M.D., speaks at the Benevolent Fund campaign celebration. It was announced at the reception that the Benevolent Fund has created the Community Impact Grant worth up to $50,000.The UAB Benevolent Fund found itself with more money than it anticipated at the end of the 2014 campaign, but it isn’t going to waste. Program Manager Lisa Higginbotham said  the fund is creating the Community Impact Grant initiative as a testament to employees’ generous spirit

“For some time, the Benevolent Fund has wanted to supplement the programs we already offer with this new idea in giving,” Higginbotham said. “The Benevolent Fund has been very blessed to have lower than expected pledge loss and expenses during the past year and an increase in pledges for the coming year. This seemed like the perfect time to introduce such a grant to our community and further engage our UAB employees.”

“For 30 years the Benevolent Fund has enabled UAB employees to meet the most urgent needs of our fellow employees and others throughout our community,” said President Ray Watts, M.D. “The Community Impact Grant initiative is an exciting way for us to address serious challenges in health, education and economic security and dramatically changes lives for the better.”

The inaugural grant of up to $50,000 will be awarded to a non-profit group or coalition to help fund an initiative that will affect education, health or economic security. Interested non-profit groups that operate in the Greater Birmingham area must submit a brief proposal that supports one of three goals:

  • children achieving educational success,
  • people leading healthy, active lives or
  • families becoming economically secure.

 Higginbotham said those three areas have the potential to improve quality of life for years to come.

“The ripples from success in these targeted issues will spill over far into Birmingham’s future,” Higginbotham said. “Economically secure families, for example, tend to produce children who find greater career success and stability; investing now creates generational change. Moreover, we found these issues don’t work in isolation, but dovetail when considered as part of a bigger picture. Kids provided educational opportunities tend to have healthier lives and more economic security. Anything we do in these three areas will be made more significant by this deep and innate connectivity.”

Application and selection criteria

Brief proposals will be accepted through 5 p.m. Aug. 22, and the Benevolent Fund Committee will select applicants to complete full proposals Aug. 27. To be eligible, applicants must provide 50 percent matching funds — of which at least 25 percent must be cash. Learn more about the grant application requirements and timeline online.

UAB employees will select the grant winner. Finalists will present their grant request to employees Dec. 10, and employees will vote at the event.

"By calling for innovative proposals and allowing our employees to decide which program to fund, we hope to increase awareness of issues facing our community and the ways we can work together to overcome these challenges." – Lisa Higginbotham, Benevolent Fund program manager

“We embrace our role as one of the ways UAB serves our community,” Higginbotham said. “We are pleased to be able to offer what we believe will be a tool for positive change. By calling for innovative proposals and allowing our employees to decide which program to fund, we hope to increase awareness of issues facing our community and the ways we can work together to overcome these challenges.”

Celebrating 30 years of giving

This year the Benevolent Fund celebrates its 30th year of service; it was founded in 1984 by UAB employees and former President S. Richardson Hill, M.D. In its inaugural year the fund raised more than $460,000 from employee contributions. In 2014, the fund raised $1,795,258.

“The Benevolent Fund recognizes the importance of building our community,” Higginbotham said. “Our framework of giving supports more than 120 local non-profits and our Employee Emergency Assistance Program.”

During the past 30 years, approximately 3,500 employees have received more than $3.5 million in direct financial assistance through the EEAP. Higginbotham said the majority of employees were unable to work and without income because of medical reasons and received assistance to maintain health insurance and pay medical bills, rent, utilities or other necessities. The program also assists employees who experience loss through fire, flood and tornadoes.

The fund has awarded nearly $28 million to local health and human-service agencies that provide a safety net for the community, including health-care screenings, nutritious meals, affordable homeownership, job training, assistance with utility bills and medical research.