In 2017, ProMedica launched a 10-year, $50 million project called the Ebeid Neighborhood Promise. This project is aimed at improving the UpTown area, a neighborhood near downtown Toledo.
Now ProMedica is collaborating with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to mobilize tens of millions of dollars for underinvested communities, starting with a $45 million effort to scale up economic opportunity and improve health outcomes in Toledo and the surrounding region over the next decade. The initiative will begin in the UpTown neighborhood, the home of ProMedica Ebeid Institute.
“If you look at other cities that have done nice things downtown, if it doesn’t translate to the neighborhoods it really is kind of meaningless,” said Randy Oostra, president and CEO, ProMedica. “You build really shiny buildings and everybody writes about you, but yet in the neighborhoods, the health continues to go down.”
Although the UpTown neighborhood has many strengths, including a buzzing art community, it also faces many challenges. The neighborhood has a 61% poverty rate and a 30% unemployment rate. Its residents have a 7% higher rate of diabetes and a 5% higher rate of asthma than the statewide averages.
“We pledged ourselves to make sure that we weren’t just going to do something in the inner city as far as building buildings, but we really had to fundamentally get in the neighborhoods and help, come alongside people, and do what we can to help them change their life, if they’re ready, willing and able to do that,” said Oostra.
Changing Lives in Toledo
In Toledo, LISC has invested in small businesses, healthy housing and financial opportunity centers (FOC) for decades.
“We’ve been in Toledo since 1989,” said Maurice Jones, president and CEO, LISC. In that period of time, we’ve invested about $150 million of our own money, grants, loans, equity. In addition to that we’ve leveraged about $300 million to various initiatives.”
The co-led initiative is a natural step after the work the two organizations have been doing both separately and together.
“ProMedica is one of the most aggressive health care enterprises that I know of in the country right now when it comes to pursuing social determinants of health,” said Jones. “We’ve already been doing commercial corridor building with them, we’ve already been doing FOC work, they operate already the grocery store that tries to serve the food desert.”
William Boone, an UpTown resident says the nearest grocery store to his home outside of ProMedica’s Market on the Green is 3-4 miles away. “The convenience that you offer is great; not to mention the products you have that are so fresh and healthy,” he said. “It’s really a blessing to have you all here.”
Along with the market, ProMedica Ebeid Institute, offers a job training program, financial coaching and community classes. Job trainee Kayla Smith, who works the market, says her situation has improved since participating in the financial coaching and working at Market on the Green. “My situation before was kind of stressful,” she said. Now, she says she’s saved more money, earned more money with her job and has more opportunities to spend with her kids. “I have more opportunities to spend with my kids, and am able to put them to bed and have dinner with them,” she said.
Making a Collective Impact
“The model that we’re moving towards is really around collective impact,” said Kate Sommerfeld, president, social determinants of health, ProMedica. “From housing, to safety, to health indicators, education indicators, and really making sure we’re using a data-driven approach, producing metrics and measuring outcomes where we know that we’re making a difference.”
“It’s an incredible opportunity to put two sectors together…and have a great impact for a neighborhood and a community and, hopefully, a country,” said Jones. “The hope is that we grow what ProMedica is doing, but that other hospitals across the country look to emulate what they are doing. Because the bottom line is that this can also be done in Buffalo, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Houston–you name it.”
“To have the beauty of LISC come in with 40 years to be able to help us is a tremendous opportunity for us,” said Oostra. “Their focus on the right things in neighborhoods, whether it’s economic development, job training, the creation of new businesses, housing, making sure that a neighborhood is secure. All those things is really what LISC brings to us. It’s all the things we want, not only for ourselves and for our families, but for our neighbors as well.”