Hillman Emergent Innovation: Serious Illness and
End of Life Program

The Hillman Serious Illness and End of Life Emergent Innovation Program (HSEI) seeks bold, early stage, or untested interventions that address health challenges faced by vulnerable populations including the economically disadvantaged, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ people, people experiencing homelessness, rural populations, and others. The program will award as many as five one-year grants of $50,000 each. 

Bringing extra attention and support to end of life care
While the foundation awarded grants in the Hillman Serious Illness and End of Life Emergent Innovation Program in 2018, the 2019 HSEI RFP marks the first time the program has issued its own public RFP. The decision to create a separate program alongside the original Hillman Emergent Innovation Program was grounded in the desire to bring additional attention and resources to innovative work in this vitally important field. 

To read about the Hillman Emergent Innovation Program, click here.

Seeking bold early-stage work from a diverse range of applicants
In the belief that transformative ideas are as likely to come from small community care settings as they are from major academic research centers, the foundation welcomes applications from a broad range of institutions, care settings, and practitioners (including nurse clinicians, researchers, postdocs, and adjunct faculty.) 

The Hillman Serious Illness and End of Life Emergent Innovation Program supported the following five projects in 2018:

  • Improving Palliative Care in the ICU for Black Populations: A Nurse-Led Approach
    This project will address care disparities at the end of life for black populations who often receive inferior health care and have greater unmet care needs. Using an experience-based co-design methodology, the project will collaborate with the African American communities being served to develop, implement, and evaluate a palliative care intervention in the intensive care unit to improve goals of care conversations and help patients transition back into the community. Principal Investigator: Rebecca Wright, PhD, BSc (Hons); Johns Hopkins University.

  • Advance Care Planning and Goals of Care for Unrepresented Older Prisoners
    This project will conduct a national survey in order to modify an advance directive for use in prison populations and identify best practices for medical decision-making among unrepresented incarcerated persons. The work will support prisoners’ autonomy and access to advance care planning, which is essential to allowing incarcerated individuals the right to die with dignity in an environment typified by lack of choice and control. This effort also aims to shift increasingly scarce prison healthcare resources toward care that is desired and away from services and procedures that are unwanted, futile, costly, and associated with suffering. Principal Investigator: John Song, MD, MPH, MAT; University of Minnesota.

  • Complicated Grief Group Therapy for Persons with Serious Persistent Mental Illness
    Unlike normal grief, complicated grief is characterized by maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that obstruct the difficult but natural progression of grief. Unresolved grief following a traumatic death is highly associated with complicated grief and both contributes to and sustains persistent mental illness in adulthood. This study will examine the efficacy, feasibility, and impact of community implementation of complicated grief therapy for low-income, uninsured persons with persistent mental illness. It is a partnership between the University of Utah and the community-based Polizzi Clinic and will use DNP nursing students as co-facilitators of the groups. Principal Investigator: Katherine Supiano, PhD, LCSW; University of Utah. 

  • Training Geriatric Nurse Practitioners to Provide Quality Primary Palliative Care in Nursing Homes
    More than 30 percent of older adults receive care in nursing homes in the last six months of life under the Medicare Skilled Nursing Facility benefit. These patients often receive care that is focused on rehabilitation and/or aggressive, disease-modifying therapies with minimal consideration for palliative-oriented care. This project will develop, implement, and evaluate a primary palliative care training program for Skilled Nursing Facility-based nurse practitioners to increase the number of advance directives completed and ultimately improve the quality of care received. Its design leverages an academic-practice partnership between the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Acts Retirement-Life Communities. Principal Investigators: Joan Carpenter, PhD, CRNP, ACHPN; University of Pennsylvania.

  • PALL-HEART, a Telehealth Palliative Care Pilot Project for Rural Heart Failure Patients
    Heart failure patients who live in rural areas are especially vulnerable to suffering and often experience barriers to specialized palliative care, symptom management, and physical activity programs that could improve symptoms and quality of life and decrease hospitalization rates. PALL-HEART is a tablet-based symptom management program for rural patients with heart failure that is delivered in the home. It will be developed and evaluated by a joint team from the University of Virginia, University of Kentucky, and the University of California, San Francisco. Principal Investigator: Jill Esquivel, PhD, AC/FNP-BC, FAHA; University of Virginia.


The Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation invites proposals for 2019 funding from the Hillman Serious Illness and End of Life Emergent Innovation Program. Please see the 2019 Request for Proposal (RFP) for details on eligibility, evaluation criteria and how to apply. You can also download the RFP here.

To review the RFP fort he Hillman Emergent Innovation Program, click here.

To apply, please register and log into the Grants Portal.

2019 Hillman Serious Illness and End of Life Emergent Innovation Schedule*


Request for Proposals (RFP) Announced

Mar 19

RAHF Grant Portal Opens

Mar 19

Applications due

Apr 29

Applicants invited for full proposal                             

Jun 11

Full proposals due

Jul 22

Awards announced

Sep 9

* Schedule is subject to change


For questions that have not been addressed on this webpage or in the Request for Proposal, please contact us at innovationsincare@rahf.org.