RMHF Trustee and staff definition of health equity:
“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.”
As the effects and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic unfold, we continue to witness the creativity, resilience and resolve of our community. Public health leaders and those on the front line providing medical care are working tirelessly. Nonprofit leaders and their teams are adapting practices and finding ways to share resources to serve our region’s most vulnerable citizens. Residents are exploring new ways of building community and fostering social connection. And, our partners at Community Foundation of greater Richmond and PlanRVA launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund to mobilize resources in response to the significant needs of our community. All of these acts speak to the resourcefulness of our region and are essential to maintaining hope in this time of uncertainty and physical distancing.
We recognize that the impact of COVID-19 will likely be long lasting, have a disproportionate effect on vulnerable populations, and will require investments in policy and advocacy and community building and engagement over the years to come.
Last week, the Trustees of Richmond Memorial Health Foundation met and approved a first-phase grantmaking response to COVID-19. The Trustees’ first-phase response is centered in the Foundation’s commitment to foster health equity and will provide one-time general operating support to organizations providing critical services and outreach to senior citizens, non-English speaking populations, those at risk of intimate partner violence and other forms of physical abuse and those at risk of losing much needed behavioral health services. We will also continue to work with our core health safety net partners that are delivering much needed health care.
Our team members are serving as key liaisons, coordinating COVID-19-related grantmaking and connecting with organizations working in these areas:
- Lisa Bender and Mark Constantine – behavioral health and health safety net organizations
- Fred Karnas – senior citizens
- Albert Walker – non-English speaking populations, immigrants and refugees
Our ongoing support of other initiatives that align with RMHF’s strategic framework will continue to be led by:
- Kendra Jones – health equity, arts and culture
- Michael Smith – health equity and the built environment
The Trustee’s first-phase response also includes a $50,000 pledge to the COVID-19 Relief Fund established by the Community Foundation. We extend deep respect and gratitude to the Community Foundation and to PlanRVA for their critical leadership during this time. [Learn More and Contribute]
In addition, RMHF Trustees have approved a $50,000 pledge to the Family Crisis Fund launched by the Robins Foundation in partnership with Family Independence Initiative. We are encouraged to see bold action and an equity-based response to COVID-19.
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We recognize that we will need to remain diligent in learning from our partners about evolving needs and intend to be responsive, adaptive and flexible as the longer-term implications of COVID-19 make themselves known. We also stand alongside our philanthropic partners to do all we can to minimize both the short- and long-term impacts of the pandemic, as well as the health disparities that are likely to widen.
While the path ahead may not be easy, it is with courage, compassion and conviction that we will move ahead together.