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Endeavor Foundation Receives Innovation Fund Award

Jan. 28, 2013

Grant to Support EnergizeNWA Initiative, Kick-Off at January 31 Summit

Endeavor Foundation announced today that it was awarded a $170,000 grant from the Convergence Partnership to support EnergizeNWA – a new initiative focused on increasing access to healthy foods and physical activity for Northwest Arkansans. Endeavor Foundation is one of only 13 community foundations in the United States to receive a 2012 Innovation Fund grant, which recognizes innovative and leading philanthropic institutions poised to catalyze community-wide improvement in health and equity.

 “As a community foundation dedicated to ensuring a vibrant future for Northwest Arkansas and our residents, we’re excited to apply this grant toward the creation of programs and infrastructure that support a healthy, more active lifestyle,” said Anita Scism, President and CEO of Endeavor Foundation. “EnergizeNWA is a community-led effort to help make the healthy choice easy, safe, affordable and accessible for everyone in the region. Support from the Convergence Partnership will help make this vision a reality.”

The Convergence Partnership is a collaboration of eight of the nation’s leading funders and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Convergence Innovation Fund, which is the partnership initiative that awarded the grant, honors new or expanding local and regional innovative initiatives that help ensure all people can live, work, and play in healthy communities. Grants totaled $1.85 million, with a required foundation match of $2 for every $1 awarded.

 “Community foundations like Endeavor play a critical role in influencing the landscape of the places where they operate,” said Judith Bell, president of PolicyLink. (PolicyLink is the program director for the national Convergence Partnership). “The Convergence Partnership chose to invest in Endeavor Foundation because of the community foundation’s demonstrated leadership, desire to equitably serve vulnerable populations in Northwest Arkansas, and their emphasis on creating systemic change through convening and grant-making efforts.”

 At a public EnergizeNWA kick-off event on Thursday, more than 160 community leaders will provide input and guidance to shape how the community-led initiative will pursue regional improvements that promote healthy eating and active living. The day’s speakers will include: Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Joe Thompson, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation advisor Tracy Fox; and Dr. John Agwunobi, Senior Vice President and President of Health and Wellness with Walmart.

The first round of Convergence Innovation Fund grants, which were awarded between 2010 and 2012, led to significant changes within local communities. Some of the key impacts included promoting equity in decision-making processes by providing opportunities within low-income communities and communities of color; increasing access to healthy food through policy changes, corner store initiatives, farmers’ markets, and new marketing systems; improving the built environment through zoning changes, improvements to parks, and passing policies to support more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods; and building multi-field partnerships among non-traditional partners.

Similar changes are expected to occur in Northwest Arkansas as a result of the Innovation Fund grant and the work Endeavor is spearheading in the community.

To find out more about the Convergence Innovation Fund Initiative and the other awardees, please visit


About the Convergence Partnership

The Convergence Partnership is a collaboration of funders who have come together with the shared goal of changing policies and environments to better achieve the vision of healthy people living in healthy places. Its members are Ascension Health, The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, The Kresge Foundation, Nemours, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention serves as technical advisors.  PolicyLink, a national research and action institute devoted to advancing economic and social equity, is the program director for the partnership. Prevention Institute, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving community health and equity through effective primary prevention, works with PolicyLink to provide policy research and analysis and strategic support to the partnership.  Each Convergence foundation partner contributes to a fund that is housed at the Tides Foundation. Therefore, grants are made through the Convergence Partnership Fund at Tides Foundation.  For more information about the Convergence Partnership, please visit