Equity + Health

Health equity means everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy and well as possible. This requires engaging communities and partners to reduce health disparities by removing obstacles to health such as poverty discrimination and their consequences.

HEAL Initiative

HEAL Initiative

The HEAL (Health Equity Action Leaders) Initiative is a reimagination of civic action through a neighborhood-based leadership development program in communities of color in the Richmond region.

We are co-designing a third Equity + Health Fellowship with 3 placed-based non profits in Richmond to:

  1. Advance health equity through a racial and ethnic lens, and
  2. Align community engagement and policy and advocacy efforts centered in resident voice with the aim of helping to ensure public dollars and public policies make equity a top priority.
  3. The HEAL fellowship model will engage system-level emerging leaders through the HEAL general operating grant program to help create a framework for cultivating and supporting policy priorities for action to advance health, racial and economic equity in the region.

Applying for Funding
Grant cycles for this focus area is currently closed. Sign up for our eNewsletter to stay informed or Contact Albert Walker with questions.

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2020-2021 HEAL Initiative Partners

How Fellowships Informed Our Journey

The original Equity + Health Fellowship launched in 2016 was designed to engage community leaders in providing us with strategic guidance to shape our policies and practices around health equity. Fellows were charged with creating a framework over the course of nine months to inform and accelerate our health equity work.

The fellows recommended four goals for us to pursue:

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.

The second Equity + Health Fellowship launched in 2018 — the “grassroots fellowship” — turned the focus outward and invited leaders to strengthen and advance their own work in neighborhoods and communities throughout the region. These “grassroots fellows” were asked to develop and advance community-based projects over a nine-month period to champion improvements in the built environment through place-based projects and provide us with insights on working with grassroots partners.

To learn more, see Saphira Baker and Mark Constantine’s Foundation Review article “Making Health Equity Real: Implementing a Commitment to Engage the Community Through Fellowships

Our Results

As a result of the fellowships since 2019:

  • More than 350 individuals have received racial equity training on the links between structural racism and health equity.
  • 14 Equity + Health Fellows served on our committees and taskforces.
  • Our Trustees approved general operating grants to support policy and advocacy, focusing on Medicaid expansion and affordable housing.
  • Our programmatic priorities – Access to Health Care, HEArts, Health Equity and the Built Environment Program and Health Equity and Community Building Program – reflect the practices recommended by Fellows.
  • Our Board and staff participated in intensive sessions focusing on implicit bias, privilege and the racialized context of Virginia.
  • We partnered with Robins Foundation and the City of Richmond to support the city’s membership in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE).
  • We hired first director of community investments and the built environment to advance issues related to health equity and the built environment.
  • We hired our first senior advisor to advance issues related to health and housing equity.
  • We hired our first Director for Health Equity and Community Building to deepen the Foundation’s work with residents in local neighborhoods.