Director of Sisters of Saint Joseph Fund speaks to Rotary

PARKERSBURG – The Sisters of Saint Joseph Charitable Fund has distributed nearly $13 million in grants in its 19-year history.

Cynthia Drennan, executive director of the fund, spoke Monday to the Parkersburg Rotary Club, briefly outlining the history of the foundation and its mission to support healthy communities.

Drennan said the fund is a sponsored ministry of the Congregation of Saint Joseph, a charitable organization dating back to the 17th century, and is governed by CSJ Ministries. Drennan said the charitable funds purpose is to support organizations and initiatives that work to promote health in the community.

The fund has distributed about 875 grants during its 19 years of service, a total of $12,838,278. The average grant size is about $15,000-20,000, she said.

The fund grants money in three areas: Oral health, healthy lifestyles and health equity. Drennan said health equity includes areas of access and affordability.

The idea, she said, is to support individuals and organizations that make a meaningful impact on community health issues.

“People out there are the experts,” she said. “We support their efforts and what they are doing.”

The fund accepts grant requests twice a year, and Drennan said the process, which she called an “investor attitude,” is extensive.

“We’re not just there for charity, giving without any expectation of return,” she said. “We are investing in social enterprises, and we want a return on our investment.”

Drennan said the organization also monitors use of the grant money and offers application help for smaller organizations.

“We get many more requests than we could ever respond to,” she said. “Once a grant is given we’re not finished. We expect something good to come out of it.”

Drennan said often the application process is used as a chance to help organizations better understand their own missions.

“What we need to push people to think about is, ‘what is the actual benefit?’ ” of a program or initiative, she said.

For more information on the Sisters of Saint Joseph Charitable Fund or its application process, visit