Central Oregon Health Council Grant Award

United Way of Deschutes County Awarded $2 Million Central Oregon Health Council Grant

Funding to Support TRACES Community Resilience Building Initiative


Jan. 25, 2018 – The Central Oregon Health Council (COHC) has recently awarded a three-year, $2 million grant to TRACES (Trauma, Resilience, and Adverse Childhood Experiences): a United Way-led community initiative, with a goal to improve health and wellbeing in Central Oregon by building resilience and helping people thrive.  TRACES is a long-term effort focused on systemic change, building resilience, and shifting our culture to become more trauma-aware and informed.

“Our region has a long history of engaging the community to effect change. The ACEs [Adverse Childhood Experiences] research shows that through strengthening social supports and community resources we can build resilient communities. This grant allows our region the opportunity to truly embrace this important work and change the lives of our children and their families for generations to come,” said Tammy Baney, COHC’s Chair and Deschutes County Commissioner.

In the U.S. the cost to society of childhood trauma is estimated to exceed $100 billion a year. In Central Oregon, the number ranges from $38 – $81 million. Traumatic experiences early in life disrupt development and can lead to behavioral, mental, and health issues later in life, contributing to decreased academic attainment, lost productivity, and negative health outcomes, like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, and asthma. Resilience refers to the combination of individual skills and perspectives, social connectedness, and community resources that defines the ability to thrive in the face of adversity. Resilience can be cultivated and building individual resilience has been proven to offset the possible negative effects of childhood trauma.

In 2016, four Central Oregon collective impact efforts – United Way, COHC, Better Together, and the Early Learning Hub – determined that childhood trauma was at the root of many of the issues they were each working on independently, and joined forces to work on the issue together. They convened a workgroup that soon became the TRACES initiative, with United Way of Deschutes County leading the effort. The initiative now includes over 30 local businesses, government entities, nonprofit organizations, and community members.

“The Health Council is pleased to partner with our community to bring system transformation – a movement – to create a healthier Central Oregon by design,” said Donna Mills, COHC’s Executive Director. The COHC authors the Regional Health Improvement Plan (RHIP), which identifies strategic goals to address and improve public health problems. COHC also manages the community investment process for funds generated by savings earned by PacificSource, the local Coordinated Care Organization (CCO), in delivering Oregon Health Authority-contracted Medicaid services.  COHC reinvests those funds in our community based on alignment with recommendations in the RHIP through grants like the one awarded to TRACES.

“The COHC, through its Regional Health Improvement Plan, have set a clear direction for making Central Oregon a more healthy community,” said Jacob Fain, President of United Way’s Board of Directors. “It is an honor to partner with them to usher in a new approach to identifying kids who are affected by trauma and giving those kids the resources to build resilience and thrive.”

This COHC grant requires TRACES and United Way to achieve specific performance milestones each year, based on the initiative’s phases, which include Awareness & Learning, Networks & Coalition Building, Provider Training & Support, and Policy & Practices. Because TRACES is not a single program, but rather a movement focused on creating conditions where many evidence-based practices are adopted, the focus is on outcomes. TRACES is working closely with OSU-Cascades to create shared metrics by which resilience and trauma-informed care can be better understood, tracked, and improved.

“The TRACEs initiative is a phenomenal example of Central Oregon as a region working collectively toward common goals,” said Dan Stevens, PacificSource Executive Vice President and Chair of United Way’s 2018 fundraising campaign. “This project represents the collective and aligned efforts of the education, healthcare, nonprofit, and government sectors and will have a meaningful impact on our community’s health in the long term.” 

As the backbone organization for the TRACES initiative, United Way of Deschutes County is responsible for guiding vision and strategy, supporting aligned activities, promoting shared measurement, building public will, advancing policy, and mobilizing funding, as well as providing financial management for the project. To learn more, visit www.tracesco.org or call 541.389.6507.