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Frequently Asked Questions

Dogwood Health Trust is a private foundation based in Asheville, North Carolina with the sole purpose of dramatically improving the health and well-being of all people and communities of 18 counties and the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina. Dogwood Health Trust focuses on innovative and equitable ways to address the many factors that contribute to overall health and wellness, with a focus on housing, education, economic opportunity and access to care and health resources. Dogwood Health Trust works to create a Western North Carolina where every generation can live, learn, earn and thrive, with dignity and opportunity for all, no exceptions. 

A private non-operating foundation grants money to other organizations. This is the more common type of private foundation. These foundations do not directly perform their own charitable programs.

The legacy foundations are comprised of the former supporting organizations for the local Mission Health hospitals. They are fully independent private foundations. The legacy foundations are: AMY Wellness Foundation, Gateway Wellness Foundation, Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation, Nantahala Health Foundation, Pisgah Health Foundation and WNC Bridge Foundation.

Dogwood Health Trust is separate and independent of the legacy foundations and there is no formal relationship. The legacy foundations are fully independent in their strategy for funding and their investments will be made in their respective, specified geographies.

To ensure a smooth transition with no disruption in services for the people of Western North Carolina in the first two years after the sale of Mission Health System, Dogwood did disburse some start-up funds and provide back office and strategic planning support as the foundations established themselves.

No, Dogwood it is not the former Mission Health System Foundation.

Mission Health System Foundation was a supporting organization of Mission Health. Its donors funded the critical needs of Mission Health through Cases for Support and did not fund community nonprofits. Funding to several nonprofit organizations came through Mission’s Community Investment program.

Dogwood Health Trust was established on May 16, 2018 as an independent foundation and became fully operational on February 1, 2019.

Dogwood Health Trust invests in Western North Carolina organizations that address factors impacting a person’s health and wellbeing, often referred to as the social determinants of health. As a partner and collaborator across the 18-county region, Dogwood engages primarily in grantmaking as well as convening nonprofits and collaborating with local, state and national experts who are also working to improve overall health and wellbeing across communities.

Dogwood Health Trust serves ALL of the people in communities across the 18 counties of Western North Carolina and the Qualla Boundary, including Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania and Yancey.

Dogwood Health Trust partners with other organizations, government entities, nonprofits and other funders to address factors that impact people’s health and wellbeing across a wide range of areas including economic stability, education, housing and health and wellness. This work has the potential to exponentially improve outcomes fostering sustainable solutions for generations to come.

For example, among Dogwood’s first investments will be $25 million over five years to help fund programs and services addressing substance use disorders for residents of Western North Carolina in partnership and collaboration with the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

The organization is governed by a CEO and the Dogwood Health Trust Board of Directors, a diverse group of community leaders who serve as volunteers, without compensation. Directors provide primary fiduciary oversight and seek to ensure a sustainable future through sound, ethical governance and financial management. The Board is an evolving body committed to maintaining its reflection of Western North Carolina through a diverse and informed membership constantly focused on the needs of all people and communities of this region.

There is also a team of staff members that assures the day-to-day operations of Dogwood.

It is essential that the directors of Dogwood are reflective of the geography, diversity and cultures found across Western North Carolina. Learn more about the nomination process.

In a nutshell, the Internal Revenue Service requires private foundations like Dogwood Health Trust to invest at least 5% of their assets in community every year.  Because Dogwood Health Trust is a start-up foundation, the IRS allows for a gradual ramp-up of five years to meet that mark (e.g. 1% in year one, 2% in year two, etc.) However, Dogwood Health Trust has chosen to distribute funds at a much faster rate than required, making investments of more than $48 million in 2020 (year one), and anticipating $65 million in 2021.

Dogwood’s core investment decisions will be informed by listening to nonprofit partners and learning from other collaborative work, which will inform the Board’s Strategic Plan. This Plan will result in a grant program with priorities for funding are directly aimed at addressing the gaps in people’s abilities to have and meet goals for their own health and wellbeing.

Dogwood’s Impact Team constantly works to meet new partners and collaborate with existing ones. We welcome ideas and inquiries from the community at any time. Simply email an Impact Team member directly, or share your thoughts at [email protected]. In addition, Dogwood hosts at least one public convening each year – and often more than one. In Spring 2019, we hosted Listening Engagements with nonprofit and community leaders throughout Western North Carolina to learn about the strengths, challenges and opportunities to improve health and wellbeing in the local communities that they serve. In October 2019, we hosted three public meetings in the east, central and west regions of WNC. In 2020, we hosted our first formal Annual Meeting virtually to abide by COVID-19 safety protocols, and welcomed more than 600 attendees. In 2021, our Annual Meeting will again be virtual, and offered in three sessions focused on the east, central and west regions.

Read comments from our Annual Meeting or view the meeting, and read our Annual Report. You can find information and insights from the Phase 1 Listening Engagements here.

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