Helen Brown and Gladys McPherson, Assistant Professors in the UBC School of Nursing, had two previous projects funded by the Vancouver Foundation, so they set their sights on developing a competitive proposal for a new community-based health action project.
Their letter of intent outlined a project to involve the ‘Namgis First Nation of Alert Bay in addressing two community priorities – youth mental health and isolation of elders – by establishing an elder and youth council and bringing elders into the school to speak the Kwak’wala language.
“We know from previous research that culture and health are inseparable,” said Brown. “When elders feel social inclusion, chronic pain reports are less frequent and medication adherence improves.”
But for the first time, the Vancouver Foundation called for matching funds in the application. This isn’t a typical model for nursing research, so Brown and McPherson had to get creative and bold.
They figured their project was also a perfect fit with the Faculty of Applied Science strategic direction of making a difference in Aboriginal communities through collaborative research, so they decided to simply request any amount of matching funds from the Dean.
“It can’t hurt to ask, is what I thought,” said Brown. “We believe in this project 100 per cent.”
Brown and McPherson had 15 minutes to make a heartfelt and persuasive pitch to the Associate Dean of Research, who agreed to contribute $5,000 and encouraged them to also make their pitch to other sources.
“We left the office saying, who would have thought?” said Brown. “We gave each other a high-five in the hallway.”
The matching funds leveraged a $240,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation.