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Grant Proposal for Center of Balance




*Briefly describe your organization's mission statement and history.


The mission of Spindletop Center is to help people help themselves by providing resources and supports. And we've been doing exactly that for more than 45 years. The center serves the healthcare needs of individuals and families living in Jefferson, Orange, Hardin, and Chambers counties. We served over 12,000 consumers just last year. The center employs more than 400 full-time staff and is governed by a nine-member board of trustees appointed by the county commissioners' courts in the four-county area. Spindletop Center assists children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, serious emotional disturbance, severe and persistent mental illness, and substance use disorders with clinical care, transportation, housing, resources from other local providers, and much more. Spindletop Center is a name known and trusted in this community because we have weathered many storms, both literally and figuratively, with our community. 



*Program Need & Beneficiaries. Describe the unique circumstances or systemic barriers that contribute to the chronic condition or social determinant in your community that you plan to address and who will benefit from your work. Provide historical or community context, general demographics, zip codes, # of people plan to serve, challenges, strengths, etc.


Spindletop Center provides services and supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health services for those who have serious emotional or behavioral disorders that cause significant disruption in their daily lives. In particular, Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that affects communication, socialization, and behavior prevalent in 1 in 54 people. Autism is typically diagnosed in early childhood and requires a lifetime of support services, including therapy, specialized education, and support to increase independence throughout an individual's lifetime.


Young children and adolescents have access to low-cost or free services, supports, and socialization opportunities through local early childhood programs and school services. 

The school facilitates the interventions for the child. Individuals with disabilities usually graduate from high school between 18 and 21 years of age. Currently, there are 1174 children with autism enrolled in Region 5 – Jefferson, Hardin, Orange, Jasper, Newton, and Tyler counties.


Though a typical lifetime is spent mainly in adulthood, only 2% of research funding focuses on autism. This research focuses on individual-level treatment that is highly variable in goals and methods, targeting specific skill deficits and behaviors while overlooking social determinants of community participation and opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with peers in a natural learning environment. Research has found that up to 42% of adults with autism also have co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Other research studies show that caregivers and neurotypical siblings of an individual on the spectrum are four times more likely to be diagnosed with depression because of the added stressors caused by supporting their child or sibling and shared genetics and socioeconomic factors. Additionally, individuals with autism are at risk for an inactive lifestyle and obesity. Motor skills are affected by balance and coordination issues, as well as sensory integration deficits. Safety is a concern for caregivers, as many adolescents with autism will wander or run away when not confined in a closed space. Individuals on the spectrum often have difficulty understanding or following the complex rules and social convictions of many organized sports, which prevents them from joining team sports. This sedentary lifestyle results in a 25% higher likelihood of depression and increased rates of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.


Challenges that may prevent individuals with autism and their families from participating in activities that increase social interaction and physical exercise include transportation, finances, health concerns related to the Covid-19 pandemic, and natural supports that encourage those unwilling to deviate from established routines. In addition, for some individuals, the social isolation and sedentary lifestyle developed over the years is a challenge without assistance from professionals trained to provide support and resources in a safe environment that meets their sensory, social, and developmental needs.


 Spindletop Center's vision is to promote healthy living in our community. We are an established organization with positive, longstanding partnerships with many diverse social service agencies in Southeast Texas. We can provide education to individuals with autism, their caregivers, and support systems. This program aims to reduce the risks related to depression and anxiety by improving overall health outcomes through community education, physical fitness, and social interaction. Through targeted outreach, we can assemble group classes for individuals with autism aged 15-30 (and their caregivers/siblings) and educate the public to improve the social, physical, and mental health of individuals with autism in our community.


One of these community partners, the Arc of Greater Beaumont, has established a peer group of approximately ten individuals in our target demographic that will benefit from the physical and nutritional classes outlined below. Spindletop Center's extensive experience advocating for those with a disability makes us uniquely suited to provide, maintain, and expand services to promote healthy living to our target population. This grant will allow for group classes, lessons, and tangible resources based on feedback from this initial peer group.


  1. *Program Design & Evaluation. Describe the overall goal of the program and its anticipated outcomes; describe the activities that will be carried out during the grant period and the systems and/or policies you will seek to impact; explain what you will measure and how you will measure the effectiveness and progress of your program to meet the overall goal and anticipated outcomes.

The overall goal of this program is to reduce anxiety and depression in young adults with autism and other disabilities by promoting sustainable lifestyle changes and facilitating independence in daily living. The consistent social interaction in group fitness activities, peer training, and community integration will increase awareness of positive health behaviors, motivate individuals to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and provide opportunities for individuals with autism to engage with peers, family, and friends. As we work to build inclusive communities, it is essential to ensure acceptance in physical education and recreational activities that will positively impact an individual's overall quality of life.


Existing staff and new staff to be hired will be trained in best practices to reduce social isolation and improve overall health outcomes for individuals served. Participants will complete pre-and post-program assessments to track improvements in self-reported depression symptoms and overall improvement in physical health. In addition, staff will facilitate outreach efforts through social media engagement, participation in local health fairs and events, and community partnerships to educate individuals and other stakeholders on the importance of improving mental and physical health trajectories in the adult autism population. Data collection will monitor social media engagement and participation in local events to increase awareness and involvement throughout the project. Fitness classes will include cycling, yoga, pilates, weights, dance, nutrition education, and mindfulness exercises to promote self-care and well-being. In addition to fitness classes, the program will host training on various topics designed to increase support and raise awareness of the resources available to individuals and their caregivers. Topics will include transition activities to support independence in the community, improved physical and behavioral health, and opportunities for peer training.


  1. *Collaboration & Innovation. Provide a brief background of how the lead applicant, co-applicants and/or community organizations are involved in the program and/or funded. [HC1] Describe the current state of cross-sector collaboration and resident engagement in your community. Explain how your program brings an innovative solution to the topic areas you are seeking to address in your area. Important: Include information or plans on how this program will strengthen a partnership with the Hospital and/or how the Hospital can play a role in this program.


Ours will be a new program ­­— a first of its kind, as no funding exists for this critical cause. Based on the successes of other IDD programs in Texas, Spindletop Center will initiate a partnership with The Arc of Greater Beaumont and Bloom Fitness to build a community around fitness and wellness that provides participants a feeling of belonging. The Arc of Greater Beaumont works in conjunction with The Arc of Texas and The Arc of the United States to foster socialization, education, inclusion, and advocacy for individuals of all ages who have disabilities. Bloom Fitness has spent considerable time and resources to ensure the design of its program will succeed in impacting lives for a very long time. The program will provide our individuals with a sense of belonging and pride, developing motivation to optimize their health and wellness. From private donors to structured giving campaigns, Bloom Fitness and The Arc of Greater Beaumont will continue to seek avenues of funding that allow for perpetual growth and sustainability.


The ANCOR Foundation ranks Texas at 49th among the fifty states in providing care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Currently, there are limited opportunities for adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities to participate in group fitness classes or events incorporating siblings and other family members. We will be providing an opportunity to develop support systems that will carry over outside of the classes for the individual with autism and the entire family unit. Creating meaningful social connections is crucial for independence and reduces depression and anxiety. The support systems developed through peer interaction within a group activity and team-like setting can improve health, social challenges, and overall wellness and lifestyle of adults with autism and their caregivers. Adults participating in group exercise, both with and without autism, experience improvements in self-control and self-esteem regarding body image and feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Christus Hospital can refer individuals with autism to our program. The hospital's vast network of patients and their family members provides an extensive base to grow the program. Because of Christus hospitals reputation, the hospital's support could proliferate this program well beyond our expectations.


  1. *Budget Narrative. Explain how the funds will be spent for each line item on the Program Budget template. Please list what is included in Fringe Benefits, and explain your policy on providing fringe benefits to employees. Please indicate the estimated cost per person served by the program and how you arrived at this figure. In addition, please include the portion of funds directed toward overhead versus direct care or service delivery. Provide a brief summary of the expertise of key program staff. (This part needs you, Heather)


We will hire and train two new employees to establish the program, collaborate with partners, and achieve desired outcomes for program participants. The transition navigator will be responsible for community outreach, education, and overseeing metrics to monitor the program's effectiveness on the individuals' physical and mental health. Fringe Benefits include FICA, Retirement, Health Insurance (Dental included in health allocation), life insurance, disability, worker's compensation, and unemployment insurance. The actual costs of insurance are based on full-time employees (annual salary x percentage). The appropriate fringe benefit percentage of 29.00% is applied to the salary expense. Speakers from outside the organization will come onsite to discuss topics identified by staff and participants that will increase positive outcomes of participants and educate stakeholders in the community. Additional expenses include office supplies for program operations, operational costs, educational materials, fitness equipment, and general office equipment and technology for staff. Mileage will be reimbursed at the approved state rate for travel. $11,801 of the total $100,000 budget or 11.80% of the cost is related to the program overhead. This number is calculated by adding our indirect rate and the operational supplies.


The cost per person served is unknown at this time. Initially, we plan to start with a group of ten individuals. The program will grow based on feedback from this peer group and lessons learned throughout the lifespan of this initiative. We also expect to reach and engage a large stakeholder audience through our outreach and social media campaign aspect of this program. Spindletop Center and the Arc of Greater Beaumont combined have over 6000 followers of our official Facebook accounts.  


  1. *Sustainability. How will the activities and collaboration of this project continue beyond the grant period? Please share plans for matching funds and in-kind support, as well as plans for funding beyond the one-year funding offered through the CHRISTUS Fund. Given the current economic climate, please articulate the general sustainability plan for the organization. Have any changes or adjustments been made to ensure sustainability of the organization?


This program has the potential to change the autism community in Southeast Texas radically. There are so few opportunities and outlets for individuals with autism and their families that this program will create new, much-needed connections. We see our longstanding partners and others connected with the autism community coming on board to keep this program alive. Spindletop Center contracts directly with Texas Health and Human Services Commission to provide services to individuals who cannot pay for their care. We are also contracted to provide Medicaid and Medicare-funded services to eligible individuals. The CHRISTUS grant will provide the needed start-up funding to support the partners in developing and implementing the initial program. Once established, we can generate ongoing revenue through existing Medicaid waiver programs and state funding sources. 


Throughout the COVID pandemic, Spindletop Center, like so many other healthcare and social services agencies, has felt the financial impact on our bottom line. Spindletop has applied for and received PPP loans and various COVID emergency relief grants to help supplement the consequences of decreased revenue and increased expenses. We have also benefited from the ongoing CMS and HHSC approval of service provision using telephone and televideo/telehealth modalities that were not previously allowed. Lastly, Spindletop's participation in the 1115 Transformation Waiver and the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program over the past several years has provided us the opportunity to utilize these additional funds to forward our mission and strategic goals. 

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