Community Tool Box receives $250K grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Community Tool Box receives $250K grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Lisa Scheller

LAWRENCE — Talk about timely. In 1995, when the Internet’s popularity was soaring, the University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development launched the Community Tool Box website — a free resource to help communities at home and abroad improve health and development.

Since then, the Community Tool Box has burgeoned. The website now includes 7,000 pages of resource materials in English and in Spanish. In addition, the process of translating and culturally adapting the pages into Arabic is about half-completed, and efforts are underway to translate all of the website into Portuguese, French, Chinese and Russian.

Users worldwide rely on the Community Tool Box. In the past 12 months, more than 5.8 million visitors from 230 countries accessed the site. Two-thirds of those visitors came from outside the United States.

To support financial sustainability of both the Tool Box and the KU Work Group, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded a $250,000 grant to KU Endowment. Since the inception of the Tool Box, private philanthropy and funds generated by KU Work Group’s contractual services have supported it. The grant will provide resources for the Work Group and Tool Box to develop a long-range business plan to ensure vitality well into the future. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also provided generous support for the Tool Box during the program’s early years — support that helped position it for success.

Stephen Fawcett, KU’s Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Professor of Applied Behavioral Science, founded the KU Work Group for Community Health and Development in 1975 and has directed it since then. He co-developed the Community Tool Box and has remained actively involved in it. He plans to retire this year.

“The original vision of the Community Tool Box was to be a common well, a place where people working to build healthier and more just communities could find what they needed to be more effective and to be inspired by the work of others,” Fawcett said. “We are so grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for helping us assure that this capacity-building resource will continue to grow and serve those we will never meet in places we will never be.”

The project supported by this grant will be led by Christina Holt, associate director for Community Tool Box services at the KU Work Group. Others involved in the Community Tool Box include Jerry A. Schultz, co-director, and Vince Francisco, incoming co-director, of the KU Work Group.

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