The Northern Virginia Health Foundation was created in 2005 by order of the Alexandria Circuit Court during the resolution of litigation surrounding the closing of Jefferson Memorial hospital.  The Foundation's mandate, as determined by the Court, is to improve the health and healthcare for Northern Virginians, with a particular emphasis on the needs of low-income, uninsured residents of Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax.

Much of 2005 was spent launching the Foundation – seating the nine-person Board of Directors, clarifying processes and procedures, meeting with community stakeholders, learning about the health and healthcare needs of the region, and getting information on efforts underway to address those needs.

In October 2006, the Foundation issued its first Request for Proposals, and made $1,300,999 in grants to 18 nonprofit organizations in March 2007.  In March 2008, $1,098,350 in grants were made to 11 nonprofit organizations.  The Foundation made a second round of grants late in 2008, totaling $450,932 to 12 nonprofit organizations.

Taking the economic crisis into consideration, the Foundation's Board of Directors decided to have two grant-rounds in 2009 that focused on preserving the healthcare safety net services for low-income uninsured residents of Northern Virginia.  That year, the Foundation made $1,115,500 in grants to 13 nonprofit organizations.  Concerned that the safety net clinics were seeing substantial increases in numbers of patients, and recognizing that the need for safety net services was greater than ever, the Foundation again focused the majority of its 2010 grantmaking on its core safety net grantees, providing $1,264,326 in grants to 12 nonprofit organizations.  And again in 2011, the Foundation continued its focus on the healthcare safety net and provided $769,000 in grants to 12 nonprofit organizations.  In 2010 and 2011, the Foundation also expended a substantial amount of resources to assist safety net clinics with improving their back-office functions.

During its first five years, the Foundation has been engaged in a variety of activities beyond grantmaking, including creating and participating in collaborations and partnerships with other funders, policymakers and providers.  All of its efforts are focused on working closely with nonprofit organizations, government agencies and community stakeholders who are also committed to improving health and healthcare in Northern Virginia.