October 16, 2023

Supporting a Community Foundation to Deepen Its Impact in Southern Texas

The Rio Grande Valley of Texas, located on the U.S.-Mexico border, represents one of the most historically marginalized and under-resourced areas in the United States. The region is a dichotomy of wealthy suburbs and colonias, impoverished communities that lack basic services such as transportation and clean running water. The health landscape in Texas has been shifting towards greater consolidation of health centers and hospitals, in parallel with conversion to for-profit models, leading to an increasingly stressed safety net system and exacerbated access challenges for the area’s most vulnerable communities.

Knapp Community Care Foundation (KCCF) is a health conversion foundation that was created from the acquisition of Knapp Medical Center (Weslaco, TX) by Prime Healthcare. The Foundation is committed to approaching all grantmaking through a social determinants of health lens, seeking alignment with the determinants and five focus areas: direct health care services, prevention and wellness, health-related education, behavioral health, and nutrition. KCCF’s guiding principles are rooted in the belief that investing in “upstream” initiatives, which encompass prevention, wellness, nutrition, and health education, is paramount to foster lasting positive change within any community. Recently, KCCF has worked to expand its impact in the community with initiatives such as the establishment of a robust leadership development program for nonprofits and an impact investment program.

In 2022, KCCF partnered with Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC) to help direct its growing efforts in sustained investment and grantmaking in the community. The partnership focused on two main objectives: (1) deepening the foundation’s knowledge of mid-valley community needs and (2) identifying a pipeline of non-profit growth/capacity building needs that might benefit from KCCF’s (and external funder/investors) investment.

To support KCCF’s impact investment and capacity-building efforts, PCDC led three separate efforts:

  1. Produced three county-level profiles and developed a novel priority score that identifies areas of greatest need—based on the Mid-Valley population’s access challenges and social determinants of health—to support KCCF programming and guide investment opportunities.
  2. Conducted focus groups comprised of health care/social service providers from the community—with the help of Unidos Contra la Diabetes, a local organization—to get on-the-ground perspectives about the unmet needs of the communities they serve, the greatest challenges they face in meeting those needs, and the best solutions they envision to meet those needs.
  3. Worked with KCCF’s network of non-profit organizations to identify capacity-building/growth opportunities to expand services.

PCDC’s efforts highlighted the communities’ primary social and health care needs and identified opportunities for service expansion. Community profiles are available here for Hidalgo, Cameron, and Starr counties.

“The partnership with PCDC helped enrich our knowledge, improve our decision-making, foster community engagement, and ultimately, amplify the impact of the foundation’s investments in addressing community needs. This collaboration supported us in advancing our holistic, sustainable approach to improving the health and well-being of Mid-Valley families,” said Cristina Trejo-Vasquez, KCCF Chief Executive Officer.

“I am grateful to and appreciative of both Northern Trust’s and PCDC’s support and guidance during this learning process. You embraced our community as you sought to learn the nuisances that have continued to negatively impact our health care system and regional economy. I hope to read and learn about how this partnership has changed the world (in the next few years!). I have all the faith in the world!” said Yvonne “Bonnie” Gonzalez, former Chief Executive Officer of KCCF.

These resources will help guide KCCF’s team in their impact investing and grant-making efforts and generate a pipeline for external philanthropic and banking capital to best respond to the evolving needs of the Rio Grande Valley community.

KCCF joined forces with its wealth management partner, Northern Trust, to embark on an inaugural mission-related impact investment endeavor. Through strategic collaboration and resource mobilization, Northern Trust has empowered communities alongside its foundation partners, leveraging capital into underinvested communities. Following Northern Trust’s investment of $1 million into the Affordable Homes of South Texas, a U.S. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), KCCF invested an additional $1 million to help complete the financing needed for a new subdivision of 114 single-family homes for low- to moderate-income families. ($1 million leveraged an additional $1 million.)

“It was an honor to work with the Knapp Community Care Foundation and be welcomed into the community by its staff and non-profit partners. We are excited for what additional investment this landscape analysis can attract to the community to address the many health and social needs identified,” noted Isaac Kastenbaum, Vice President of Training and Technical Assistance at Primary Care Development Corporation. “This will be a great starting point for continued, coordinated activity in the Mid-Valley.”

PCDC is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides capital financing, expertise, and advocacy to expand primary care access and advance health equity in communities that need it most.