Some of the best gifts are ones you don’t even have to ask for.
Ann Cazaban, Executive Director of Southside Community Health Services, recently received what she called a “rather cryptic message” from Yield Giving, the foundation of philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The message requested a short meeting.
“Within 15 minutes, the Yield Giving staff had informed me of the gift and asked for our CFO contact information,” recounted Cazaban. “We received the money within 15 days!”
“The money” is a whopping $2.6 million, which will go toward the creation of One Southside, a new 30,000-square-foot community health center on East Lake Street. The center will provide comprehensive primary medical services, including dental, vision, and behavioral health.
Founded in 1971, Southside CHS is committed to providing quality health services, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Cazaban says the new building will allow Southside CHS to expand its client base from 11,000 to 18,000 people, and will bring all of its services together under one roof. According to Cazaban, nearly 100% of Southside patients are publicly insured or uninsured.
“Demand for affordable access to primary care services continues to grow. There is not enough access for those in need in our community,” said Cazaban. “Our dental clinic has a waitlist of hundreds of patients. Our current medical clinic space is leased from Minneapolis Public Schools and we cannot be open on the weekends, which limits access for families. COVID-19 has also exacerbated health disparities among the people we serve, as many delayed routine/preventive care.”
One Southside is scheduled to break ground in mid-2024 on the former site of the Lake Street Family Dollar store that was destroyed during the civil unrest following George Floyd’s murder in 2020. Cazaban says they chose the site for several reasons.
“It is located in our service area and on several transit lines. Locating on East Lake Street brings us back to where we were founded 52 years ago and provides much better visibility for our services. And it puts us closer to other community social service agencies to help our patients address their health-related social needs,” she said.
One Southside is an estimated $30M project. In addition to the MacKenzie Scott gift, the nonprofit has received $3M in congressionally directed spending, as well as funding from both Main Street Revitalization and Restore, Rebuild, Reimagine Funds. Cazaban says they are working on additional private philanthropy and public investment.