A Win-Win for Vanderbilt and the Community

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Challenge: Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, one of an elite group of independent schools of nursing, has long been recognized as a leader in educating advance-practice nurses with graduate degrees. Already boasting one of the nation's largest nurse-practitioner programs, in the late 1980s the school urgently needed nurse practitioner practice sites for its growing student population. Nearby, families in the Vine Hill neighborhood of subsidized housing had poor access to health care, and their basic medical needs were going unmet.

Approach: Determined to reach out to the community, as well as to provide unique educational opportunities for its students, the school developed a bold plan to establish one of the first nurse-managed clinics in the country. To develop the new program and fund the facility, philanthropy was essential.

Until then, the school’s advancement program had focused on urgently needed scholarship support. But to create the new Bridge to Graduate Nursing Program, additional philanthropic resources were needed. As Director of Alumni and Development, Susan Holt led the school's executive management team in exploring new avenues of foundation and individual support.

Through this research, we learned that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation appeared to have the right fit. The foundation had an interest both in community grassroots development and access to care for underserved populations. So we developed a plan for Susan Holt and Dean Colleen Conway-Welch to cultivate a relationship with the foundation. Then working with the school’s senior management team and finance office, as well as city government, we created a five-year proposal to establish and sustain Vine Hill Community Clinic.

Outcome: Following a site visit, the foundation awarded the school a multi-year grant of nearly $900,000 to establish Vine Hill Community Clinic in Vine Hill Towers. This nurse-managed care clinic provides primary, mental health, women’s health and pre-natal care to patients across the lifespan, with a special focus on vulnerable populations. In serving more than 6,000 residents of the Vine Hill community and surrounding neighborhoods, the clinic provides a rich training site for nurse-practitioner graduate students, as well as serving as the centerpiece for nursing-student fieldwork in community health. It now includes satellite offices located at Parthenon, Madison and Hadley Park Towers.