RWJF Invests in Advancing Health and Racial Equity in Greater Richmond

April 27, 2022

Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (RMHF) is the recipient of a $1 million grant as fiscal sponsor from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to advance health and racial equity in the greater Richmond area. Funding will support mission-aligned organizations working at the intersections of policy and advocacy and civic engagement, as well as providing direct services that connect underserved community members with resources.

“We are thrilled to support RMHF in this effort,” said Aditi Vaidya, senior program officer at RWJF. “We believe that RMHF plays a key role in advancing health and racial equity in the region. As a national foundation, we see the critical roles that local and regional foundations play in communities, and look forward to learning with RMHF and its partners’ direct service and system levels work.”

“This initiative aligns well with our new strategic framework, particularly as we deepen civic engagement and policy and advocacy efforts to address both health and racial equity in our region,” added RMHF Board Chair Reggie Gordon. “We are deeply grateful to continue our partnership with RWJF and past efforts including Invest Health, Connect Capital and RWJF’s Culture of Health Prize.”

RMHF invested $820,000 to support the work of  The Commonwealth Institute, Virginia Health Catalyst and Voices for Virginia’s Children. The Commonwealth Institute (TCI) advances racial and economic justice in Virginia by advocating for public policies that are designed in partnership with people most impacted, and shaped by credible, accessible fiscal and policy research. TCI will lead the formation of a Racial Justice Coalition by bringing together and supporting grassroots organizations, in order to shift power to impacted communities that they may effectively advocate for the change they would like to see. All three organizations bring their unique experiences and perspectives engaging community partners, providers and youth in policy and advocacy and civic engagement efforts. They were selected because they have a deep commitment to health and racial equity and civic engagement of people whose health and well-being is most impacted by public policy choices. All three organizations have successfully collaborated on other initiatives and have a demonstrated track record of engaging communities to affect change. 

“All too often, in the critical conversations about Virginia’s future—what needs should be prioritized, what real solutions look like, and who should have the power to decide such questions—the exclusion of communities of color and those who are directly impacted remains the norm,” shares Ashley Kenneth, President and CEO, TCI. “The mission of this new endeavor is simple: disrupt that old status quo and build in its place new, inclusive systems of justice and opportunity in Virginia. Thanks to support from RWJF and RMHF, we will bring this vision to life at a moment in which our basic values—like equity and inclusion—are being tested in Virginia.” 

With the remaining funding, our partner, the YMCA of Greater Richmond, will leverage their Help1RVA and social needs navigation initiatives to address critical social determinants of health and wellbeing, including housing, food, transportation, employment, child care, access to health services, and more. Through the social needs navigation program, services are provided virtually and in-person in YMCAs, community centers and other locations convenient to those served, improving resource access to address residents’ socially-determined circumstances created by interpersonal, institutional, and systemic biases in policies and practices. The YMCA uses a grassroots approach, convening community-based organizations to improve care coordination to positively affect health and racial inequities in quality of life and rates of disease, disability, and death.

“The collaboration of these four partners will lift up the voices of community leaders who want to achieve health and racial equity through systems-level change,” shares Abby Rogers, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Richmond. “This opportunity puts the power to drive change with youth and community leaders as well as provides support for policy professionals and advocates.”


Richmond Memorial Health Foundation’s mission is fostering an equitable and healthy Richmond region. We address the social, economic and structural conditions that contribute to health and racial inequity. We operate with a sense of urgency and a deep commitment to long-term change, emboldened by the creativity and capacity of our communities. We believe partners can do their best work when we streamline our processes, listen to the expertise of those doing on-the-ground work in the community and trust them to take action. Learn more about what we fund:

Voices for Virginia’s Children is a nonprofit organization committed to improving and protecting the lives of Virginia’s children, youth, and families. We believe every child should have equitable access to the resources, services, and opportunities needed to thrive. For us, that means advocating for sound policies, educating the public, mobilizing communities, utilizing data to determine unmet needs, and leading with compassion. Our aim is to always close the systemic gaps that fail children, prioritize racial justice in policymaking, and ensure every voice has a role in shaping their future. Get involved at

The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis advances racial and economic justice in Virginia by advocating for public policies that are designed in partnership with people most impacted, and shaped by credible, accessible fiscal and policy research. We are not working alone to achieve our vision. Our theory of change is grounded in an understanding that TCI is part of an ecosystem of policy advocacy and grassroots organizations that have a shared broad vision for building power with communities of color and people with low incomes in order to dismantle systems of racism and replace them with new, inclusive systems of justice and opportunity.  Learn more at

The YMCA of Greater Richmond, a non-profit cause driven organization, operates 17  branches throughout metro Richmond and Petersburg, serving over 200,000 people. Strengthening the foundations of community is our cause. Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive with a mission to put Christian principles into practice through  programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. For more information, please visit

Virginia Health Catalyst (Catalyst) is a statewide public health nonprofit with a mission to ensure all Virginians have equitable access to comprehensive health care that includes oral health. For over 10 years, Catalyst continues to collaborate with partners across the health care landscape to create lasting system-level change through advocacy, programs, education, and resources. Catalyst believes that every Virginian deserves good oral and overall health, regardless of their zip code. Learn more at