Richmond announces 2023 health equity grant recipients
The latest round of funding will go toward addressing substance use, sexual health, food access and more.
Richmond officials announced $644,000 in grants on Tuesday for six local organizations in the city to improve health outcomes in vulnerable communities.
The money is through the Richmond and Henrico Public Health Foundation Health Equity Fund, which was established in October 2021 using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act COVID-19 relief package.
“Our medical system has often overlooked underserved and Black and brown communities: the marginalized,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney as the recipients were announced.
Nationz Foundation Inc, The Happily Natural Day, Virginia Community Voice, REAL LIFE, The Hive and Sacred Heart Center will be supported in this 2023 cycle. The groups were chosen from 110 applicants and join nine other groups that have received grants from the Health Equity Fund so far.
The fund seeks to improve health for communities experiencing health disparities and the effects of racism through investments in seven areas: disparities related to COVID-19, mental and behavioral health, food access and security, substance-use disorder, access to care and health education, maternal and infant health, and underlying health conditions.
“When you look at a country like the United States of America, a city like the city of Richmond — which is the capital of this commonwealth — the last thing we should have is inequitable access to healthy living,” said City Council President Mike Jones.
So far, the HEF has spent $560,000 of its initial $5 million investment. Last year, six organizations received $332,000.
Funds must be spent by 2026 and obligated by 2024, according to ARPA rules. It’s unclear where the remaining funds will go.
“There is much more than $5M worth of work to do across our locality in the seven health disparity areas. We are committed to a transparent process with the City Council to make sure that the money is spent most impactfully,” RHHD spokesperson Bryan Hooten wrote in an email.
The HEF has a group of Richmond residents called a Community Advisory Committee, which reviews and approves nominations and applications for funding.
The equity fund has solely been funded by ARPA so far; neither City Council nor the state of Virginia have added any funds, according to a Richmond and Henrico Health Districts spokesperson.
Sacred Heart’s use of the funds will focus on vaccine services, resource access and referral efforts, said Saraya Perry, the HEF’s program officer.
Tanya Gonzalez, executive director of the Sacred Heart Center, said that at the height of the pandemic Richmond’s Latino population had a positivity rate four times the rate of the overall population: 60% vs 15%.
Nominations for HEF funding are currently open and close on July 9. Organizations and individuals can also apply from July 17 through Aug. 13.
Editor's note: Sacred Heart Center is operated and funded in part by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond. Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the diocese's mother church, is a VPM donor organization.