William F. Thiel Grants

Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

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Grant amount: US $5,000 - US $135,000

Anticipated deadline: Dec 14, 2019 1:00pm PST

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Wyoming County, New York

Location of residency: Wyoming County, New York

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William Thiel was a long time philanthropist in the Wyoming County area. His generosity through monetary gifts to the hospital, fire departments, and other community organizations in Wyoming County was well known. He also left a significant legacy to the County through the creation of the William F. Thiel Trust, a fund held by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. The fund document of the William F. Thiel Trust states that distributions "from this gift shall be used and applied by the Governing Committee  of The Buffalo Foundation (now the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo) for the use and benefit of the health requirements of the residents of Wyoming County, New York.”

Project Focus

2018-2022: Wyoming County Health Needs Assessment Updates
In 2006, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo implemented its first strategic plan. As a part of the plan, the Community Foundation made the decision to put a concerted effort behind the Thiel Trust, commissioning the first Wyoming County Health Needs Assessment. Using general trends in national rural healthcare, the assessment included a survey of local healthcare experts, governmental agencies, providers and the general public to determine the highest needs of the county. The Health Needs Assessment was refreshed in 2012. This focused effort has resulted in Thiel funding touching one on three lives in the county and the disbursal of almost $3 million over the last ten years.

With ten years of funding history guided by prior Health Needs Assessments, the Community Foundation recast the Wyoming County Health Needs Assessment in 2017. The 2018-2022 Thiel funding priorities were chosen utilizing both qualitative and quantitative input. The Thiel Roundtable which is comprised of Wyoming County health providers and experts who reviewed the Thiel reporting and have extensive knowledge of the current healthcare landscape.

2018-2022 Thiel Trust Funding Priorities

As a result of the data and feedback from the reports, and with the guidance of Thiel Roundtable members, the Community Foundation has chosen the funding priorities for the next five years.

Priorities include:


Equipment - focus: general population - priority ranking: 1

Advances in medical technology have led to improved diagnostic capabilities and also to increased productivity and efficiency in health care organizations. Past Health Needs Assessment indicate that hospital utilization and emergency-department utilization are well within average levels and arguments that are often made in opposition to hospital expenditures do not appear to be supported here by any overuse of unneeded services. Specific projects related to equipment needs need to be further identified and become aspects of the facility strategic plans of the Wyoming County Community Health System or other not-for-profit health care service providers.

Personnel - focus: general population - priority ranking: 2 

Several community leaders commented on the need to maintain and increase levels of physicians and health related personnel in Wyoming County. The importance of homegrown programs through which local students become familiar with health care careers and potentially practice in their home county, and programs that relate to overall education of primary care specialists and the retraining of health-related personnel were cited. Personnel are at the cusp of access to health care services and efforts should be made to maintain and expand such services to promote an adequate supply of health care personnel in the county.

Public Health - focus: general population - priority ranking: 4

Public health is the practice of preventing disease and promoting good health within groups of people, from small communities to entire countries. Accordingly, public health services have far-ranging impacts that affect the general population—such as food safety, immunizations, and control of the spread of infectious disease— and as such are high-priority programs. 

Health Services

Access and Navigation - focus: general population - priority ranking: 2

Past Health Needs Assessments showed a high degree of support for programs that facilitate access to effective health care. Access services include person-to-practitioner language translation, transportation and health literacy through which health terminology and practices are explained and thereby better understood and followed by residents and recent immigrants. There are an estimated 900 migrant farmworkers in Wyoming County who are the major source of labor for the dairy industry. The health of this population is important in itself, and an additional consideration is that many dairy farms would face serious problems if these workers were not able to perform their jobs.

Chronic Disease - focus: general population - priority ranking: 1 

Past history, health expert input, and both 2017 Thiel commissioned reports indicate a high need for education, programs, and treatment for chronic disease including, but not limited to hyperlipidemia, hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, and heart failure.  

Dental Health - focus: general population - priority ranking: 4

Prior Health Needs Assessments noted the need for expanded access to dental health services. Dental health needs for children, the underserved, and uninsured populations are very high. 

Past numbers showed that in comparison to other populations in the county, these populations significantly overutilized emergency departments for dental problems. In 2008, Medicaid and self-pay patients accounted for 54 percent of ER visits for dental problems whereas they accounted for only 25 percent of all ER visits. 

Emergency Assistance - focus: low income residents - priority ranking: 2

Although significant safety-net programs exist in the county, there are many cracks in those nets for low-income people with sporadic immediate needs regarding medication, medical equipment, medical transportation and social-support-group programming. This is not a medical necessity or reimbursable program, but is a medically responsible one. Peer-to-peer support is a major characteristic of such programming. Any applications submitted for consideration under this priority must focus entirely on low-income people.  

Mental Health/Substance Use Disorder - focus: general population - priority ranking: 1

In past Health Needs Assessments, the high need for mental health services and personnel was noted. Both 2017 Thiel reports reinforce the need for mental health services is still present with many qualitative responses focusing on this issue. 

Qualitative and quantitative data from the Thiel commissioned reports also indicates that the opioid abuse rate is increasing in the county. While data shows pain medication prescriptions rates are decreasing, likely an indication that physicians are aware of the issue, street drugs, such as heroin, are cheap and readily available. Many of the respondents to the Human-Centered Design report speak of how drugs have adversely affected their lives. County health care experts also relay stories on drug abuse cases and the wide ranging effects of the problem.  

Reproductive Health - focus: general population - priority ranking: 4

As outlined in the Wyoming County Trends and Impact Report, many of the reproductive health indicators are positive for Wyoming County. Birth rates are decreasing, the teen pregnancy rate has declined significantly, and midwives are now available to address prenatal care. However, health care personnel have advocated that reproductive health education and programs continue to be supported for females and also males.  

Transportation - focus: general population - priority ranking: 3

Both 2017 Thiel reports indicate a need for transportation services that enable health care services. The Thiel Trust would be open to receiving requests that focus completely on medical transportation that can either target a particular portion of the population, such as seniors, or be broader in whom they serve. 

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • The Community Foundation currently manages grant opportunities, which are open to nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations.