Building capacity to build community

[3 minute read]

One way that Providence is creating health for a better world is by supporting our local partners who contribute to their communities’ well-being and resilience. A new Community Capacity Initiative, part of the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund, does just that. In January 2022, the initiative awarded $2.75 million in grants to 10 nonprofit partners to help build their capacity to make a lasting impact on the communities we serve.

Avoiding homelessness

One of these partners, Health Share of Oregon, is leveraging its $500,000 community capacity grant to offer crucial and well-timed support to people at imminent risk of becoming homeless. The coordinated care organization has a broad reach, serving more than 400,000 members of the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon’s Medicaid program. “We know that folks who are unhoused end up with more health challenges than any other members we serve,” says Cristina Castaño, director of housing strategy for the nonprofit, pictured here. “Housing is an embedded part of what our members need to be stable and healthy.”

Going upstream to meet needs

The grant will fund a pilot project exploring the use of Medicaid funds to cover limited housing-related support, focusing initially on people being released from residential facilities such as recovery programs, hospitals, and correctional institutions. “Many of these folks are at risk of homelessness,” says Cristina. “A little extra support at the moment of release – some housing navigation, a few months of rent assistance, or even a cell phone to be able to connect with doctors or potential employers – can make the difference between continuing on their own or ending up chronically homeless.”

Collaborating on shared goals

For these populations and others at risk, Health Share of Oregon has established a central administrator to work with community partners, including housing service providers, to build a stronger network of support.

“Providence’s grant will allow us to create more bridges to support communication, interaction, and collaboration between health systems and housing systems. It means a lot.” 

Cristina Castaño, director of housing strategy, Health Share of Oregon 

Housing is health

The longer-term goal for this pilot is to demonstrate how housing support services could work as a Medicaid benefit for very vulnerable people. The state of Oregon hopes to have supportive housing included in a future Medicaid waiver, enabling programs like this to become permanent. 

These types of investments serve as an extension of Providence’s community benefit, explains Gabriela Robles, chief executive of the St. Joseph Health Community Partnership Fund. “As Providence’s strategic grantmaking partner, the fund supports local organizations as they respond to immediate pressing issues at the community level and develop longer-term strategy.”


About the Community Capacity Initiative

The Community Capacity Initiative is a strategic partnership with St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund and Providence’s Community Health Investment team. The initiative helps local agencies and nonprofit organizations amplify their impact by providing investments to support capacity building as well as technical assistance and coaching through our partner, Charitable Ventures.


Health for a Better World story, about serving with our local partners to build community resilience. 

Related Resources

Providence Community Partnerships News

24 nonprofit organizations receive gifts from St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund

Supporting parents and helping children thrive through partnerships

Providence partners with Community Solutions to end homelessness


About the Author

Community Partnerships is a division that aligns the influence of Providence to create stronger communities, raise awareness, and illuminate a pathway that inspires all to serve. Through partnerships, we work to improve the health of our nation and achieve our goal of Health for a Better World.

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