EHF produces annual Impact Evaluation Reports to measure its engagement and investments within the diocese. It’s part of our effort to be transparent and to measure the true impact of our work.
“We publish our evaluation reports because we want to be accountable as a health philanthropy,” said Elena Marks, EHF’s president and CEO. “The 2016 evaluation report shows we’re making progress on our mission to create healthier communities in Texas.”
Here are highlights from EHF’s 2016 Impact Evaluation Report concentrating on EHF’s Congregational Engagement work:
Focus of EHF’s work with Episcopal congregations
EHF’s Congregational Engagement work utilizes EHF staff, external contractors, and financial resources to collaborate with Episcopal congregations within the Diocese and help them create community partnerships.
Two major focuses of the congregational engagement work have been: 1) financial and technical support for congregations to develop or expand transformational community health projects, and 2) training events to build the knowledge and skills to transform community health.
In addition, program areas are being developed to help congregations focus their work and move from charity-based ministry to transformational action, including areas of Racial Reconciliation, Poverty Relief, Civic Engagement and Community Organizing, and Mental Health.
EHF’s Congregational Engagement team has also launched the Holy Currencies Incubation program for sustainable ministry and established the Kitchen Cabinet to serve as the voice of the church in EHF’s congregational work.
EHF Congregational Engagement in 2016
In 2016, EHF was actively engaged with 138 Episcopal congregations through emails, phone calls, presentations, meetings, training, convening, and conference attendance. More congregations were engaged through in-person meetings, trainings, and convenings than in the year before. That shows growth in our partnerships with contractors and other organizations that work with congregations on EHF’s behalf.
EHF monitors how engaged each congregation is using a “Level of Engagement” measure, to describe the depth of our partnership to improve community health. The three-point scale includes high (actively developing or implementing work), moderate (exploring work), and low (still in communications phase). In 2016, EHF saw an increase in “High” engagement levels and a decrease in “Low” engagement levels. By the end of the year, 95% of congregations were engaged at a moderate or high level, and 41% overall were highly engaged with EHF.
EHF invested a total of $307,822 in congregations through direct funding of church-based community projects, consultation, and training in 2016. Of this investment, 50% was deployed through contracts with organizations and consultants to work with congregations.
Congregations were most engaged in these top three initiatives:
1) Mental Health First Aid
2) Kitchen Cabinet
3) Civic Engagement and Community Organizing
Developing areas of engagement included racial reconciliation and health, poverty relief, children and youth, community development, and Holy Currencies. Additional churches participated in other partnerships.
Churches from 26 of the 57 counties within the Diocese of Texas were engaged with EHF in at least one of these congregational engagement initiatives. Half of the region’s counties had congregations involved in more than one initiative. Altogether, 47 congregations were involved in two or more initiatives, and 20 were engaged in three or more initiatives.
One major example highlighted to measure the impact of EHF’s congregational engagement work was the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training. Training sessions were hosted by congregations across the diocese. In 2016, 20 congregations hosted workshops. The workshops certified 445 people from the community and 52 people from Episcopal congregations.
Six months after participating in Mental Health First Aid training, 92% of respondents surveyed reported they had greater empathy toward persons experiencing mental health symptoms and 90% said they had increased confidence in using MHFA skills.
In addition, 61% of respondents reported reaching out to someone dealing with a mental health problem. Sixty-one percent also reported correcting a misconception about mental health in a recent interaction with someone.
The majority of respondents felt the MHFA training was worth their time (96%), and felt the workshop was of value to their congregation (89%).
Through this Congregational Engagement work, EHF has deepened its relationships and work with congregations through direct engagement and connections with consultants and partner organizations. More than 40% of Episcopal churches across the diocese are now actively engaged in doing community health transformation work. In addition, the development of initiatives like examining racial reconciliation and health, has provided new opportunities to congregations to focus their ministries and projects to improve the health of their community.