Do you work for a not-for-profit organization in the U.S. devoted to helping the medically underserved? This includes people excluded from the mainstream health delivery system such as:
- Farm workers
- Homeless children
- Pregnant teens
- Low-income mothers and infants
- People who don’t have the strength or means to reach a clinic or hospital
If so, here’s how you could win up to $100,000 for your good work.
Each year, Premier’s Cares Award program awards a cash prize of $100,000 to the winning organization, with an additional $120,000 in cash awards divided between 5 runners-up.
As the director of the Cares Award program, I’ve read through hundreds of applications over the years. Having seen the ones the judges react most favorably to, I want to share 5 tips on how to make your application stand out, based on the score sheet the judges use:
Tip 1: Highlight your program’s innovation and creativity
Is your program taking a unique angle to address the health issues of the patients you care for? Your program may be similar to others that serve the same population, but are you taking a creative approach to drive more effective outcomes? That’s what the judges are looking for.
For example, the NiteStar program (a previous finalist) has taken a unique and innovative approach to empowering youth with skills to lead healthier lives by engaging them in a performing arts program.
Tip 2: Beef up your outcomes
The most heavily weighted portion of the application is the outcomes section. Why? Because it drives to the heart of what the Cares Award program is all about recognizing – measurably improving the health of the population you serve.
Make sure you demonstrate the impact you’re having on your targeted population (not just activity like “number of patients served”). Here are some examples:
- Has the birth weight of at-risk babies increased over time?
- Have instances of domestic violence decreased in the population served?
- Have the number of days missed from work or school decreased by establishing proper asthma care?
- Have families or caregivers affected by illness documented decreased levels of depression or hardship due to the access to care your program is providing?
- A successful rehabilitation of homeless people could document 75% sobriety in the population served – even if the population is small. A small population is fine. You just need objective and measurable results.
Also, keep in mind that adding charts and graphs of these outcomes will help the judges more clearly see your results.
Tip 3: Note whether your program is replicable
The Cares Award is also about sharing effective approaches to solving health challenges and spreading that knowledge to organizations in other communities. Could your program and its methodology be adopted by another organization elsewhere with similar positive results? In scoring this area, the judges will assess whether your program might be too costly or site-specific to be reproduced elsewhere.
Has your program already been replicated? Make sure to note that in your application so the judges will be aware.
Tip 4: Ensure your data is objective and reliable
The credibility of the documentation included in your application is important. Make sure your data is substantive, objective and reliable. When reviewing your application, the judges will ask:
- Is the data overly anecdotal?
- Could there be another, just as likely reason for the outcomes?
A common reason applications receive poor scores in this area is that they describe only activity-based data (such as number of clients served), rather than robust data that demonstrates impact and improvement.
Tip 5: Include strong supporting documents
As part of your application, we ask for three letters of support. These should be from people not directly involved with your program’s management, operation or governance. These should be authentic and unique letters from people who can speak to your program’s effectiveness, such as patients, clients, civic leaders and government officials, to name a few. To get a good score in this area:
- Make sure your letters of support are from appropriate sources
- Include informative, relevant charts and graphs describing your outcomes
- Ensure the data you share is robust and complete
Keep in mind the award is not a grant. It’s an award for past successes and accomplishments (not for something you intend to do).
More info about the Cares Award