Creating Local Behavioral Health System Change (Request for Applications)

Creating Local Behavioral Health System Change  (Request for Applications)

Missouri Foundation for Health invites organizations within its region to apply for support to design and implement positive change in their local behavioral health system.

Mental health and substance use disorders – commonly grouped under the category of behavioral health disorders – are complex public health issues with equally complex service systems to address them. The Foundation considers behavioral health as a vital component to achieving our mission of improving the health and well-being of communities most in need. As our understanding of the complexity of the behavioral health system has increased, our strategy has evolved to concentrate on investing in efforts designed to address underlying systemic and structural barriers to achieving good behavioral health. We do this by supporting analysis and learning to advance our understanding of factors influencing the behavioral health field, investing in change efforts that pilot and spread innovative approaches, and supporting policy and advocacy efforts that may emerge as a result of this work.

For the purposes of this request, The Foundation intends to support the improvement or creation of behavioral health systems that will, for example, better coordinate and deliver services, maximize resources, or pursue policies that promote an integrated network of partners to facilitate positive change for Missourians most in need.

We define the “local system” as a collection of local environments, actors, and organizations – each with its own set of strengths, gaps, barriers, and opportunities. “Systems change” is defined as efforts focused on realigning and coordinating these factors. Systems change work emphasizes shared responsibility and accountability in order to increase efficiencies, provide more comprehensive care, and improve behavioral health outcomes.

Pre-application Webinar:

The Foundation is open to all types of possibilities and encourages applicants to clearly define their community, target population, focus, and partners. For example, projects may focus on:

  • A single community, single county, or a multi-county region
  • The whole population or distinct groups such as children, older adults, people who are homeless; have criminal justice involvement or significant health needs
  • The whole service system or a specific service area such as crisis services or integration of health and behavioral health

We anticipate investing in projects to create and implement a 36-month plan to strengthen local behavioral health systems. Each project will have a lead agency that submits the proposal. Applicants are encouraged to build on existing strategies or activities already underway as long the application clearly describes how the funding will support further progress or new directions. Applicants are also encouraged to have partners identified even if they are not fully engaged at the time of submitting the application.

The behavioral health infrastructure in Missouri varies considerably across places and populations. Thus, projects will likely define their target community and engage with partners in different ways.  At the same time, many aspects of local change efforts share common features and challenges involving relationships, service delivery, infrastructure, and funding. Our aim is not to define a “right way” to achieve local systems change but to work with the funded organization to learn from the distinctions and commonalities.

Awardees will participate in a Foundation-facilitated learning cohort to share experiences, ideas, and strategies as each approach to improving the local system is tested. The cohort will foster a deeper understanding of common challenges and promising solutions. Together, the cohort also can develop a cohesive voice to elevate critical issues to decision-makers or other communities.

Click here to download the full RFA.

Applications are due by Monday, September 16, 2019, at 11:59 p.m.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must be nonprofit or governmental entities and meet the general MFH funding guidelines available on the Foundation’s website.

If you have questions about the goals or content of this RFA please contact Michael Renner, Program Officer,
(314) 3455533 or Find answers to frequently asked questions here.