As part of Richmond Memorial Health Foundation’s (RMHF’s) commitment to fostering an equitable and healthy Richmond region, we intentionally focus our work on addressing the social, economic, and structural conditions that contribute to poor health outcomes.
These efforts can be complex, interconnected, and influenced by our own experiences and biases. As stewards of a community resource, we understand the critical importance of engaging with and listening to the people who work courageously and creatively to address the disparities and inequities that persist in our region.
To that end, we kicked off our first class of Equity + Health Fellows in 2016. Eighteen individuals representing diverse, mission-aligned organizations in the Richmond region came together over a nine-month period to map out a bold and actionable equity agenda for RMHF. The 2017-18 Fellows recommended four goals and ten strategies to pursue for RMHF.
Those four goals include:
- Model and support practices across sectors that explicitly promote racial equity and improve health outcomes.
- Invest in the development and participation of traditionally underrepresented community members to be decision-makers and leaders in fostering equity.
- Be a catalyst for greater racial equity and inclusion in nonprofit hiring and governance in the region.
- Advocate for federal, state, regional and local public policies that foster health and equity in the region.
We have made significant progress against these goals, including the launch of a second class of Equity + Health Fellows in alignment with the suggested strategy (under goal number two) to “develop and support a cohort of grassroots leaders to promote health equity.”
The 2018-19 Equity + Health Fellows are a group of twelve grassroots and community leaders working individually and collaboratively within their communities to advance health and racial equity in the spaces and places where they live and work. What follows is a report, written by the Fellows, reflecting on the process and offering recommendations to RMHF about how our Board and team can address health equity in the built environment while applying a racial equity lens.
Not unlike our first class, these Fellows approached the Fellowship with passion, courage, and impatient optimism. We are grateful to have learned with and from them and look forward to integrating many of their recommendations as our Trustees embark on strategic planning for the organization’s next three years.