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Empire Health Foundation: Sarah Lyman
(509) 954-9338

HUD: Leland Jones
(206) 220-5356 (work) or (804) 363-7018 (cell)
September 25, 2013

HUD & Council on Foundations honor work of 10 foundations across the country

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Council and Foundation today announced that Empire Health Foundation of Spokane is one of 10 foundations across the country to win a 2013 HUD Secretary's Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships.

The Empire Health Foundation was cited by HUD and the Council for its Eastern Washington Obesity Prevention Initiative which recently achieved reductions in obesity rates among three target school districts. Launched in 2011 by the Foundation, the Initiative is a collaboration that includes the City of Cheney, Cheney School District, Washington State University, Spokane Regional Health District, Davenport School District, East Valley School District, Newport School District, Othello School District, Spokane Public Schools and the Wellpinit School District.

The Initiative's goal is to to implement systems and environmental changes to reduce and prevent childhood obesity. A key investment has been to help school districts convert their breakfast and lunch programs from "unhealthy processed foods to healthy scratch cooked meals; from chicken nuggets to herb-baked chicken; from French Fries to roasted red potatoes; from syrupy canned peaches to fresh fruits and vegetables." Last year, the Foundation reports, 1.6 million meals were positively impacted in the seven participating school districts. In addition, the Foundation has worked closely with Cheney public schools to reduce reducing access to unhealthy competitive foods on campus (both in and out of the classroom); increasing nutrition education; and increasing physical activity levels across all grades. These efforts are being replicated in the other districts that have more recently joined the Initative.

The award announcement was made by Secretary Donovan today at the Council on Foundations' Community Foundations Conference in San Diego. In addition to the Empire Health Foundation, other winners of the 2013 Secretary's Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships included the Rasmuson Foundation of Anchorage, the Fairfield County Community Foundation of Connecticut, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, the Raymond John Wean Foundation of Youngstown, the Rhode Island Foundation, the St. Paul Foundation, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis and the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation serving New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.

"These organizations are doing the heavy lifting to improve neighborhoods, often without much thanks. Today, we say ‘thank you!'" said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "These foundations are teaming up with public and private partners to bring about positive change and lasting solutions that are making a real difference in their communities."

"These awards provide us all a moment to reflect on the good work that foundations are doing to advance communities across the country," said Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. "I am grateful to HUD and Secretary Donovan for recognizing the many different ways that foundations are thoughtfully responding to the needs of those around them."

"As a result of a public-private partnership with the Cheney School District, City of Cheney and other key community partners, we are seeing measurable declines in childhood obesity rates, which is a significant achievement," said Anthony Chiang, President of the Empire Health Foundation. "We have a lot of work to do, but these are exciting and positive early results."

HUD Secretary Awards are given to place-based funders for completed or ongoing initiatives that are executed in partnership with a local, regional, or federal government agency.


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The Council on Foundations (, formed in 1949, is a nonprofit membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. Council members include more than 1,700 independent, operating, community, public and company-sponsored foundations, and corporate giving programs in the United States and abroad. The Council's mission is to provide the opportunity, leadership, and tools philanthropic organizations need to expand, enhance, and sustain their ability to advance the common good.

Empire Health Foundation is a private foundation with $50 million in philanthropic assets based in Spokane, Washington. The Foundation serves a mix of urban and rural areas comprised of seven counties in Eastern Washington. The mission of the Foundation is to transform these seven counties into the state's healthiest region through investing in ideas and organizations that improve access, education, research and public policy.