Healthcare foundations involved in funding Integrated Voter Engagement in Kansas

The Kansas Health Foundation took the lead on the multi-year Integrated Voter Engagement project


APR 22, 2024

Reprinted with permission from WATCHDOG LAB

Note: This is the second article in a four-part series on “Integrated Voter Engagement” in Kansas.  This article looks at the healthcare foundations funding IVE in Kansas.

Part 1 reviewed the history of IVE and how it started in Kansas. Kansas healthcare foundations spent big on Integrated Voter Engagement (IVE) to push for “health equity.”

Part 3 highlights the Kansas nonprofits receiving funding to engage in IVE.

Part 4 reveals the impact of IVE on Kansas, and especially the “blueing” of Johnson County.

Healthcare nonprofits involved in Integrated Voter Engagement in Kansas

The first article in this series looked at the history of Integrated Voter Engagement as the starting point to understand the nearly $9 million spent by three health foundations in Kansas from 2017 through 2025.

IRS 990 financial information (2022) from Healthcare nonprofits involved in Integrated Voter Engagement in Kansas. The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund does not file IRS 990s.

Wichita Area

In 1985 the nonprofit Wesley Medical Center in Wichita was associated with the United Methodist Church when it was sold to the for-profit Hospital Corporation of America (HCA)

The proceeds from the 1985 sale resulted in the formation of two nonprofits: the Wesley Medical Endowment Foundation and the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund (UMHMF).

The Wesley Medical Foundation became the Wesley Foundation in 1986 and changed its name again to become the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) by 1992

2017 AP article explained differences between KHF and UMHMF:

  • UMHMF “operates safety-net clinics in some parts of Kansas.”
  • KHF “funds research and community-based programs to improve the overall health of Kansas residents.”

Wesley Medical Center sold for $265 million from which $200 million in proceeds was used to create the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF), and $30 million was used to establish the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund (UMHMF).

The 2014 restated KHF Articles of Incorporation shows an ongoing KHF connection to the United Methodist Church

KHF’s “purpose is to improve the health of all Kansans in accordance with the health care purpose and mission of the Great Plains Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.”

The IRS requires KHF to file yearly IRS 990 tax statements, but  Candid says UMHMF “is not required to file an annual return with the IRS because it is a religious organization.”

United Methodist Health Ministry Fund

From the UMHMF website

The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund sparks conversation and action to improve the health and wholeness of all Kansans—especially those in rural and under-served communities. 

United Methodist Health Ministry Fund
Hutchinson-based religious group with focus “to help Kansans thrive with healthy minds, bodies and spirits”

UMHMF assists KHF-funded organizations in integrated voter engagements efforts, but its spending is not a public record. 

In 2022 UMHMF helped the Neighboring Movement and The Voter Network’s “Voter-to-Voter” efforts to get-out-the vote.

UMHMF’s Tending the Civic Soil pageprovided a sermon guide and toolkit, which was shared by the Voter Network on their website. 

The sermon guide provided links to both, and The Voter Network, all of which received integrated voter engagement funding from the Kansas Health Foundation.

In 2022 United Methodist Health Ministry Fund teamed with The Voter Network and The Neighboring Movement in get-out-the-vote efforts in Kansas. As a religious organization this nonprofit is exempt from IRS reporting.

Kansas Health Foundation

From the KHF website:

The Kansas Health Foundation creates strategies and develops partnerships to improve health for all Kansans, by reducing health disparities and focusing on health equity. We envision a culture in which every Kansan can make healthy choices where they live, work and play. 

The Kansas Health Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Wichita, but statewide in its focus.

KHF started out as a private foundation but the IRS approved a change to a public charity, which was requested in 2015 but the final ruling occurred in 2020

KHF was the key organization behind two phases of Integrated Voter Engagement: 

Kansas City Area

The sale of the nonprofit Health Midwest hospital system in 2003 to for-profit HCA resulted in the creation of two new nonprofit foundations: 

  • Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, now doing business as Health Forward Foundation, and
  • REACH Healthcare Foundation.

An Oct. 26, 2004 Kansas City Star article revealed the initial funding from HCA for these two nonprofits:

  • Health Forward Foundation (under its original name)  “received about $409 million in initial funding this year [2004].”
  • “the REACH foundation this year [2004] received more than $99 million in initial funding.”

Health Forward Foundation

From the HFF website:

Every day we work to support and build inclusive, powerful, and healthy communities characterized by racial equity and economically just systems.

Health Forward is based in Kansas City, MO.

In Aug. 2023 Health Forward announced $4.9 million in grants to support and build community power.

Is “community power” healthcare?

Health Forward Foundation is focusing on building community power over the next five years

REACH Healthcare Foundation

Overland Park-based REACH has a focus only on Wyandotte, Johnson and Allen counties in Kansas, and three counties in Missouri.

REACH Healthcare focuses only on three Kansas counties.

Five years ago, the REACH Healthcare Foundation started an examination of its own investments and partnerships through the lens of racial equity—asking questions both internally and externally about the impact of REACH’s grantmaking practices on nonprofit leaders and Black-led, Black-serving organizations. The information gleaned from these conversations was the spark that ultimately created our Centering Black Voices initiative which sought to increase our investment and partnership with the Black community. Currently, we embrace our responsibility to reparative health philanthropy

Part 3 highlights the Kansas nonprofits receiving funding to engage in IVE.

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