From decades of history to today's healthcare marketplace to tomorrow's bright future, Kosair Charities focus has always been about making kids' lives better, helping them reach their potential while overcoming their obstacles.
In 1923, members of Shrine Temple, doctors, lawyers and other community leaders embarked on a bold initiative to provide medical care to crippled children in the Louisville area and throughout Kentucky. Three years later, Kosair Crippled Children’s Hospital opened as a place where children could receive long-term, quality medical care. The need proved so great that by 1930, the hospital reached a capacity of 100 beds. Responding to the devastating polio outbreak in the region and throughout the country, the hospital made polio treatment a top priority and added an annex to the building. During and since that time, hundreds of thousands of children and their transformed lives have become part of a phenomenal history.
After the merger of Kosair Crippled Children Hospital and Children’s Hospital, in the 1980s, the scope of care was broadened to help even more children in need.
In 1981, Kosair transitioned from a hospital, a direct provider, to a philanthropic organization, now known as Kosair Charities, an expansive organization that responds to the needs of very diverse groups of children.
“We have always been focused on the medically fragile child. We are loyal to that. Our definition of a child in need has broadened so that we now focus on many large issues that confront kids,” says Keith Inman, President. “Healthcare is an everchanging marketplace. In a hospital setting, we were limited by the number of beds and space. We have gone from that singular entity to supporting more than 225 organizations.”
He says Kentucky leads the country in child abuse and neglect, which incentivized Kosair Charities to develop an innovative program, Face It, to tackle the complexity of issues that contribute to neglect and abuse. Partnering with Kentucky Youth Advocates, Kosair works with more than 60 statewide groups that are focused on ending child abuse. Face It takes a three-pronged approach: promoting best practices in prevention and intervention; building awareness and engaging the community; and advocating for policies to improve the child welfare system.
On its Eastern Parkway campus, KosairmCharities provides themKids Center space and grants to offer rehabilitation services to the most medically fragile children. Also located on the campus are entities such as Spina Bifida of Kentucky, the University of Louisville autism program, Epilepsy Foundation, Huntington’s Disease, Louisville Metro Police Foundation, Trust for Life, and the U of L Dental Clinic and Pediatric Office. In addition, Kosair Charities is also aligned with CASA to help children who are navigating the court system.
Most people still identify us as a hospital and don’t understand that we have invested millions of dollars in the youth and children of our state and region to help them reach their potential while overcoming their obstacles.
In 2018, Kosair Charities granted over $10 million to more than 180 partner organizations. Last October, Kosair Charities committed more than $16 million to 90-plus partner agencies in 2019. “If we can make a big difference with $16 million a year, just imagine what we could do with $32 million, $42 million or $52 million a year if we can raise those funds,” says Inman.
“Most people still identify us as a hospital and don’t understand that we have invested millions of dollars in the youth and children of our state and region to help them reach their potential while overcoming their obstacles. Broadening the awareness of what we do is a challenge,” says Inman.
Looking toward the future, he and his staff and volunteers hope to break down the root causes, and help stop or prevent problems facing children and families. In conjunction with the development of a strategic plan, Inman is looking to institute a few major changes, such as reworking where Kosair Charities invests, examining how it operates and raises money, and establishing a nonprofit leadership training institute.
“We have an outstanding Board of Directors who wake up every day thinking about making kids’ lives better. The directors have been great stewards of our endowment that has grown tremendously under their supervision. They don’t like saying no to any child. As part of that, they want us to focus on being as efficient as we can with our resources but also increasing the dollars we raise so that we can fund more programs,” says Inman.
His passion for Kosair Charities’ mission is obvious when he discusses how the organization is uniquely positioned to change our community in positive ways to ensure children break the cycle of poverty and grow up happy, healthy and safe.
He’s a leader who is invigorated by daunting challenges and exciting opportunities. “I don’t get overwhelmed by the work that needs to be done because it drives me to do more. I’m motivated to grow Kosair Charities to help the kids and also help the community be a better place.”