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New Ascension Foundation to address social determinants of health

Ascension Foundation logoAscension, one of the nation’s leading Catholic and non-profit health systems, has created the Ascension Foundation, a national philanthropic organization that will develop, support and promote activities that advance health equity.

The Ascension Foundation’s work will initially support:

  • Novel programs that disrupt generational poverty and create new pathways to economic stability for families and communities.
  • The creation of a future healthcare workforce that better reflects the race, ethnicity and cultural mix of the country.

“The pandemic has revealed that our nation’s health disparities are wider and deeper than ever, and it will require large-scale, national solutions if we are to truly improve the health of communities, particularly communities that have long been underserved,” said Joseph R. Impicciche, JD, MHA, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension. “As a leading Catholic health system, we are particularly called to make meaningful changes that address the root causes of health disparities. The Ascension Foundation gives us a bold new way to support programs designed to address these pressing needs.”

“The Ascension Foundation is honored to partner with organizations that are creating long-term change for individuals and communities,” said Robyn Kress, Senior Vice President, Ascension Foundation. “We will invest in this work and look for new philanthropic support to accelerate and amplify these efforts.”

“This is vitally important generational work and will be measured in decades,” Impicciche said. “We hope that our Foundation’s work will catalyze other health systems and organizations to also make long-term investments in eliminating health disparities and strengthening our communities.”

The Ascension Foundation’s Initial Collaborations

The Ascension Foundation has begun by establishing multi-year collaborations with three organizations that have proven success in three American cities.

Marian Middle School, St. Louis
Marian Middle School educates adolescent girls with limited means but high potential across the St. Louis metropolitan area. The school’s holistic and faith-based education consists of a rigorous Academic Program incorporating STEM, an Enrichment Program that encourages leadership and self-discovery, and a unique Graduate Support Program that provides mentoring, academic, social and financial support to Marian alumnae in high school, college and into their careers. Marian also provides wrap-around support, such as counseling, therapy, food and clothing, and connections to emergency resources to support the success of students and families. Rooted in a city where the poverty rate is more than double the national average, Marian Middle School is committed to breaking the cycle of poverty. With Marian’s support, alumnae are graduating high school and entering college at rates that vastly exceed their peers, and flourishing at some of the world’s largest institutions and organizations, including Ascension.

In this collaboration, the Ascension Foundation is providing:

  • Annual scholarships for students at Marian Middle School.
  • Support for Marian’s Graduate Support Program, including academic, social and financial support for Marian alumnae as they move through high school and college.
  • Access to affordable medication to help provide health stability at home for students and their families.

Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee
Meharry Medical College, founded in 1876, is the nation’s largest private, independent historically Black academic health sciences center dedicated to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church-related institution. The college is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services; and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation’s health professions workforce. Meharry is a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences.

In this collaboration, the Ascension Foundation is providing:

  • Support for current medical students to carry out clinical rotations at Ascension hospitals in Austin, Texas, and Indianapolis.
  • Annual scholarships for new college graduates as they pursue medical education.
  • Support for Meharry’s middle school pipeline programs.

Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit
Wayne State’s School of Medicine has a longstanding and passionate commitment to its community and urban clinical excellence. The university has developed responsive and innovative initiatives to help ensure that everyone with a passion for medicine and healthcare can pursue a world-class medical education. These innovations include Wayne Med-Direct and its Post Baccalaureate Program.

The Med-Direct program helps high-performing students who seek to address health disparities as future healthcare leaders by providing simultaneous acceptance and full-tuition support for their undergraduate and medical degrees. The Post Baccalaureate Program provides a rigorous bridge for students who have completed an undergraduate degree but require additional preparation for the specific demands of medical school. Both provide pathways for talented, dedicated students to become physicians regardless of race or financial hardships, thus increasing the workforce that cares for underrepresented populations and underserved communities.

In this collaboration, the Ascension Foundation is providing tuition support for students in the Med-Direct and Post Baccalaureate programs, as well as potential clinical rotations for Med-Direct students in Ascension Michigan hospitals.

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