Launched in October 2016, the Equity + Health Fellowship program emerged at a critical
moment in Richmond Memorial Health Foundation’s (RMHF) history. For almost 18 months
preceding the announcement of the Fellowship, the Trustees had been learning together about
the social determinants of health, the myriad roles that philanthropy can play in civil society, and
the need to address issues of equity as we live into our new mission of “fostering an equitable
and healthy Richmond region.”
RMHF’s Trustees identified the Equity + Health Fellowship as a key step in putting their mission
into action. Trustees envisioned the Fellows as a group of strategic advisors from across the
region helping to map out RMHF’s equity agenda. Equally important, Trustees saw the Fellowship
as critical to laying the groundwork for RMHF to share ownership with the larger community as
we find new ways together to envision, implement and sustain equitable solutions to the region’s
most pressing needs.
The 18 men and women selected by external reviewers for the inaugural class of Equity + Health
Fellows exceeded expectations. They were not satisfied to just show up. They brought their full
selves to the work, investing many hours of their personal time outside of the formal gatherings.
They are a remarkable force for genuine and necessary change within RMHF and across the region.
In the pages that follow, the Fellows’ recommendations to RMHF are presented in their own
words. Their vision is sharp-sighted and ambitious. Their action plan is propelled by a sense of
immediacy. The Equity + Health Fellows presented the recommendations to RMHF Trustees and
staff on October 17, 2017 – one year and four days after the call for applications was released.
This document positions RMHF to move forward over the coming months and years. Trustees
and staff will study the Fellows’ recommendations, along with a parallel assessment of our equity
work, starting in November 2017 and extending through 2018. We intend to share our first-phase
priorities for learning, action and investment by March 2018. We understand that we must do our
own internal work so we are “walking the walk,” as well as “talking the talk.”
In closing, we extend deep gratitude and respect to the 2017 Equity + Health Fellows who amazed
us by their courage, honesty, and commitment. They inspire and embolden us.