The 2017 Equity + Health Fellows presented their final recommendations to Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (RMHF) Trustees on October 17, outlining a proposed three-year agenda steeped in racial equity.
The 18 Fellows worked together over nine months to create the agenda. Their discussions took place at a time of heightened urgency generated by threats to federal health and housing funds, as well as violence in the region.
The report reflects the Fellows’ recognition that a meaningful plan for reducing health disparities in the Richmond Region requires a broad approach that addresses the economic and social factors affecting an individual’s well-being.
A commitment to racial equity stands as a separate recommendation but is also integral to all of the strategies and goals outlined in the report.
The four goals in the report are:
- 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 presentation to the Trustees ended with an inspiring drum performance by E+H Fellow Ram Bhagat (photo above), who led the group in a participatory rhythm exercise.
The Fellows acknowledged the ambitious reach of their agenda.
“Sitting back and listening to it, doesn’t it vibe a little different?” E+H Fellow Damon Jiggetts asked his colleagues, who nodded in agreement.
But the Fellows also expressed confidence in the Trustees’ commitment to their mission of “fostering an equitable and healthy Richmond Region.”
“What you’ve seen tonight is nothing new to you,” E+H Fellow Tracy Causey told the Trustees. “It’s actually something you’ve already created. Can you agree we’re at a decisive moment? I think you can. I think you have already.”
Trustee Vanessa Walker Harris affirmed the Board’s desire to confront structural racism and achieve health equity in the region.
“You have reminded us that we have already been courageous, and we can be bold,” she told the Fellows.
Trustees and staff will study the recommendations, along with a parallel assessment of RMHF’s equity work, beginning this month and extending through 2018. Trustees will share first-phase priorities for learning, action and investment by March 2018.
“You’ve made a great start and given us a pathway,” Trustee William Nelson told the Fellows. “As we proceed with courage, I’ll hear those drums.”